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Words of 2012 round-up

By Alice Northover


While most people are getting excited for the start of awards season on Sunday with the Golden Globes, the season has just ended for word nerds. From November through January, the Word(s) of the Year announcements are made. I’ll let you decide who is the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAGs, National Film Critics Circle, etc. of the lexicography community. Just remember YOLO — because it appeared on every list.

Oxford Dictionaries was first off the mark with omnishambles for the UK and GIF (verb) for the USA respectively. (13/11)

Marc Weisblott appears to be the only person who put forth suggestions for Canada’s Word of the Year. (13/11)

Dictionary.com chose bluster for the combination of its political and meteorological uses. (19/11)

Watture (electric car, watt + voiture) was named (French) Word of the Year by Festival XYZ. (23/11) The other French Word of the Year, twitter, was decided at the Festival du Mot. (25/05)

Dennis Baron of Web of Language and A Better Pencil chose #hashtag. (02/12)

Merriam-Webster chose two Words of the Year: socialism and capitalism. (05/12)

Huffington Post selected sideboob given its prevalence in their coverage this year. (06/12)

Zoë Triska of Huffington Post hates YOLO. I’m getting the impression everyone does. (10/12)

Nancy Friedman (aka Fritinancy) had a list of 14 WOTY words and is I believe the only person to include Ermahgerd. (12/12)

Australian National Dictionary Centre’s Word of the Year 2012 was green-on-blue: (used in a military context) an attack made on one’s own side by a force regarded as neutral. (13/12)

Khaya Dlanga made some suggestions for South Africa’s Word of the Year. (13/12)

Rettungsroutine (routine rescue) is the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (German Language Society) Word of the Year. (14/12)

Ben Zimmer’s Boston Globe column included many WOTY candidates. (16/12)

Cambridge Dictionaries looked at its top words for each month of 2012. (18/12)

Jen Doll at the Atlantic Wire presented “An A-to-Z Guide to 2012′s Worst Words”. (18/12)

LGBT activist Stampp Corbin suggested demographics is WOTY 2012. (19/12)

Collins Dictionary selected 12 words of the year (one for each month) including Gangnam Style, 47 percent, and Romneyshambles. (20/12)

Linguist Geoff Nunberg’s Word of the Year is Big Data. (20/12)

Vlae Kershner and the readers of SFGate selected fiscal cliff. (20/12)

Lake Superior State University released their annual list of words that should be banished in 2013. (31/12)

Professor Holly R. Cashman proposed LGBTQ WOTYs. (02/01)

The American Name Society chose Sandy as their name of the year. (04/01)

And finally, the American Dialect Society Word of the Year is… hashtag. Check out Ben Zimmer’s recap of the process (unfortunately not in GIF form, #disappointed). (04/01)

The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year (Australia) has yet to be announced, but I can contain WOTY no longer.

Please let me know if I missed any other WOTYs in the comments below, and your suggestions for which dictionary or person is which film awards ceremony and why.

Alice Northover joined Oxford University Press as Social Media Manager in January 2012. She is editor of the OUPblog, constant tweeter @OUPAcademic, daily Facebooker at Oxford Academic, and Google Plus updater of Oxford Academic, amongst other things. You can learn more about her bizarre habits on the blog.

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Recent Comments

  1. Narrative and Folk Psychology

    I don’t think that routine rescue really translates to Rettungsroutine.

  2. Alice

    Hi @Narrative and Folk Psychology,

    Could you suggest a more accurate translation of “Rettungsroutine”?
    Always happy to hear from language experts!

    Thank you,
    Blog editor Alice

  3. [...] should say. Color Robert Lane Greene #unimpressed. For a great roundup of words of 2012, check out Alice Northover’s post at the OUP [...]

  4. [...] increasing, imprint of technology on our day-to-day language. The image-link above is to OUPblog’s aggregation of words of the year for 2012 and from it, you can see that the words GIF and hashtag– key nouns in online [...]

  5. [...] -Forget the awards season for movies and television; here’s the Words of 2012 Round-Up! [OUPblog] [...]

  6. Thomas

    The ‘fun’ issue with Rettungsroutine is that it is nearly unheard of so far in the intended sense of roughly ‘standard procedure of (political/financial/…) rescue’. I’d bet that most English WOTY are better known in Germany.
    It’s been mainly used in criticism by few politicians, afak inside Merkel’s coalition.
    It’s easy to take that as a political act on its own.
    There should be an English Spiegel article on that.

  7. Thomas Hanke

    Well, apparently Spiegel Online haven’t tried to explain that in English. Rettungsschirm, e.g., is much more common. (Print) Spiegel used that Routine once, in 1975 (link on wiki page)
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wort_des_Jahres has some more exotic Germanic languages – I understand 3 out of 15 Saxonian words …

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