I have decided to comment on a blog posting I read, rather than writing something separate and confusing.  My responses are in pink.

Friday, January 09, 2009

American Dialect Society 2008 Word of the Year is “Bailout”

In its 19th annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted “bailout” as the word of the year. In the specific sense used most frequently in 2008, bailout refers to the rescue by the government of companies on the brink of failure, including large players in the banking industry.

Presiding at the Jan. 9 voting session were ADS Executive Secretary Allan Metcalf of MacMurray College, and Grant Barrett, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society and co-host of the nationwide public radio show A Way with Words. Barrett is also the incoming editor of the column “Among the New Words” in the society’s quarterly academic journal American Speech.

“When you vote for bailout, I guess you’re really voting for ‘hope’ and ‘change,’ too,” Barrett said. “Though you’d think a room full of pointy-headed intellectuals could come up with something more exciting.”

Download the 2008 Word of the Year press release: PDF, Microsoft Word.

Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year, in the manner of Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

The vote is the longest-running such vote anywhere, the only one not tied to commercial interests, and the word-of-the-year event up to which all others lead. It is fully informed by the members’ expertise in the study of words, but it is far from a solemn occasion. Members in the 119-year-old organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars. In conducting the vote, they act in fun and do not pretend to be officially inducting words into the English language. Instead they are highlighting that language change is normal, ongoing, and entertaining.

In a companion vote, sibling organization the American Name Society voted “Barack Hussein Obama” as Name of the Year for 2008 in its fifth annual name-of-the-year contest.  “Steph Opitz” had to be in the top 5.


The number after each nomination is the number of votes it received. Numbers separated by slash marks indicate a run-off. Voting totals are for each category might not be identical because the number of voters might have changed for each category.

WORD OF THE YEAR WINNER: bailout, the rescue by the government of companies on the brink of failure, including large players in the banking industry. 37/74

Other nominees for word of the year:

Barack Obama: Both names as combining forms in a large number of new words. A combining form is a word or part of a word that can be used as the root or basis of other words. 28/43.  I think Gobama, or something, would’ve been better. Barack Obama is 1)just the stem 2) a proper noun and 3) not thrown around as a verb, adjective, etc.

lipstick on a pig: An adornment of something that can’t be made pretty. 16 Isn’t a phrase breaking the rules of “word of the year”? This will be the last time I mention this, because, as you will see I would be getting obnoxiously redundant.

change: Not so much a buzzword as political wallpaper, background noise, and ambient energy rolled into one. The idea of discarding old ideas and methods seemed to underlie everything said by national political candidates. 14 Totally.

shovel-ready: Used to describe infrastructure projects that can be started quickly when funds become available 5. I’ve never heard this phrase until I read this–If I haven’t heard it, it shouldn’t be a contender.

game-changer: In business and politics, something that alters the nature of a marketplace, relationship, or campaign. From sports ‘something that changes a match or contest.’ 2 I find this word totally unspecial.


WINNER: Barack Obama: Both names as combining forms. 41/72 See top B.O. comment.

text(ing), in driving while texting (DWT), the sending of text messages while conducting and automobile, and textwalker, a person who texts while walking. 38/34 Textwalker is fucking stupid. “But texting,” in my opinion, should’ve been the word of the year.

bailout: The rescue by the government of companies on the brink of failure, including large players in the banking industry. 14

Palinesque: Pertaining to a person who has extended themselves beyond their expertise, thereby bringing ridicule upon a serious matter. 11 I’m going to start using this. For example, many of these supposed words-of-the-year must have been suggested by Palinesque interns.


WINNER: recombobulation area: An area at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee in which passengers that have just passed through security screening can get their clothes and belongings back in order. 94 That’s pretty funny.

long photo: A video of 90 seconds or less. Used by the photo-sharing web site Flickr. 5 WTF?

skadoosh: A nonsense interjection popularized by Jack Black in the movie Kung Fu Panda. 3 LOVE IT!!! TOTALLY USE IT! KFP was, like, the best animated film in years.  This word will make you look hip in front of 9 year-olds. I’m going to write Merriam-Webster and ask that it be added in the 209 edition. skadoosh.

rofflenui: A blended New Zealand English-Maori word that means “rolling on the floor laughing a lot.” 1 I honestly believe some idiot made that up. I’ve never heard that and lived in NZ this year for three months.  I’m sure some a-hole at The American Dialect Society just wanted to see what bullshit entries they could get away with. I mean, most people wouldn’t argue with an abscure reference point like that.


WINNER: moofing: From “mobile out of office,” meaning working on the go with a laptop and cell phone. Created by a PR firm. 35/53 Really, textwalker? That’s the most unnecessary?

First Dude: The husband of a governor or president. 36/43 Dumb.

bromance: A very close relationship between two heterosexual men. 28 Appropriate to the list, but sadly miss-categorized, I have a feeling this one’s here to stay.

—Most OutrageouS—

WINNER: terrorist fist jab: A knuckle-to-knuckle fist bump, or “dap,” traditionally performed between two black people as a sign of friendship, celebration or agreement. It was called the “terrorist fist jab” by the newscaster E. D. Hill, formerly of Fox News. 88  I find that offensive and not b/c some ass-clown coined it in reference to Michelle Obama, but because it sounds like it’s in the Dirty Sanchez, Cincinnati Steamer family.

body-snarking: Posting pictures and commenting negatively on the bodies of the people in them. 10 I will never use this term. Props to The ADS, for once.

fish pedicure: A cosmetic procedure in which fish eat the dead skin off the feet. 9 This isn’t some word that, like, caught on! It’s just a new foot phenom. Dumb.

baby mama: From a man’s point of view, a woman to whom he is not married and who is the mother of his child. 2 Ok, really? 2008! Who wrote this? A 90-year-old?


WINNER: scooping technician: A person whose job it is to pick up dog poop. 66 This is actually hilarious as I saw it coined live while watching the Rose Bowl parade on t.v.

age-doping: The falsification of records to show that an athlete meets participation requirements for a sporting event. 32 I think this could apply to a lot more age-dopers than just athletes.

thought showers: Coined by a British city council because the synonym “brainstorming” was said to be offensive to epileptics. 11 Terrible alternative.

—Most Likely to Succeed—

WINNER: shovel-ready: Used to describe infrastructure projects that can be started quickly when funds become available. 47/76

Tw-, tweet-, twitt- Combining forms all connoting a relationship to Twitter, a free nano-blogging service. 27/19

[name] the [job]: Joe the Plumber, etc. 12 Steph the Magician.

Phelpsian: Excellent in the fashion of swimmer Michael Phelps, who won eight medals and set seven world records in the 2008 Summer Olympics. 6 I don’t get it. You dress like Phelps?

-licious: A suffix which connotes desirability or attractiveness of the thing whose name it is combined with. 1 Textwalkilicious.

—Least Likely to Succeed—

WINNER: PUMA: An acronym for Party Unity My Ass, used by Democrats who were disaffected after Hillary Clinton failed to secure a sufficient number of delegates. It was later said to stand for Party Unity Means Action. 88 I bet they meant Puma as more of an anti-cougar. Cougar: An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. Puma: An older woman who can’t get in to clubs and can’t score with men her own age, let alone young men.

nuke the fridge: To ruin a movie franchise through the arrogance of a successful producer or director. 14

-cation: Suffix connotating “vacation” in blends like mancation, staycation, hurrication, evacucation. 1 I’ll bite. Blogcation: vacation from work day while still in the office.


WINNER: maverick: A person who is beholden to no one. Widely used by the Republican Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, John McCain and Sarah Palin. Also in the adjectival form mavericky, used by Tina Fey portraying Palin on Saturday Night Live. 73

lipstick on a pig: An adornment of something that can’t be made pretty. 37

hopey-changey: Derisive epithet incorporating Obama’s two main buzzwords (also dopey hopey changey). 8

hockey mom: A mother who spends a great deal of time and money aggressively abetting her children’s interest in the sport of hockey. 2

Founded in 1889, the American Dialect Society is dedicated to the study of the English language in North America, and of other languages, or dialects of other languages, influencing it or influenced by it. ADS members are linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, historians, grammarians, academics, editors, writers, and independent scholars in the fields of English, foreign languages, and other disciplines. The society also publishes the quarterly journal American Speech.

The American Dialect Society is open to all persons worldwide who have an interest in language. Membership includes four annual issues of the society’s academic journal, one complete scholarly work per year from the Publication of the American Dialect Society series, and subscription to its email newsletter. There is a discounted membership rate for students at any academic level, who are especially encouraged to join.
[Last modified: 11 Jan 2009 10:34 GMT | permalink]


One response »

  1. jennymarieanderson says:

    Oh wow, hahahahaHAHA!
    I laughed so hard, out loud solo at this and especially the pink comments. I’ve dedicated myself to reading every word of this blog before I come back out of hiding…. I’ve been on an unblogcation. Wow, please do another blog where you comment in pink! hehe.

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