by Erin McKean
You have probably heard by now (it’s one of the most-linked to items online) that the Oxford American Dictionary has selected “podcast” as the word of the year, or, as we refer to it in the lexicogging biz, the WOTY (pronounced “whoa-tee”, that is, it would be pronounced that way if anyone ever did pronounce it, instead of just sending it in emails).
The runners-up were also announced, and included:
bird flu (an often fatal flu virus of birds, esp poultry, that is transmissible from them to humans, in whom it may also prove fatal.)
ICE (an entry stored in one’s cellular phone that provides emergency contact information.)
IDP (internally displaced person; someone forced to relocate within a country because of a natural disaster or civil unrest.)
IED (improvised explosive device, such as a car bomb).
lifehack (a more efficient or effective way of completing an everyday task: I found a great lifehack for getting a cheap hotel room.)
persistent vegetative state (a condition in which a patient recovering from a coma retains reflex responses and may appear wakeful, but has no cognitive functions or other evidence of cerebral cortical activity.)
reggaeton (a Latin American dance music which combines elements of reggae music with hip-hop and rap.)
rootkit (software installed on a computer by someone other than the owner, intended to conceal other programs or processes, files or system data.)
squick (cause immediate and thorough revulsion: was anyone else squicked by our waiter’s piercings?)
sudoku (a logic-based puzzle consisting of squares that form grids within a grid. Into each smaller grid, the numerals 1 through 9 are entered but not repeated, and they may not be repeated in any row or column of the larger grid.)
trans fat (fat containing trans-fatty acids, considered unhealthier than other dietary fats.)
There were also a number of third-tier words (Miss Congenialities?) and a couple of those were really hard to leave off the list. Two in particular really stood out: Aspie (or aspie) and machinima. Aspie is a short form of “Asperger’s syndrome,” and is used by people with the syndrome to refer to themselves. It’s a very interesting word, because it is used almost in the same way as Deaf with a capital D, which is used to refer to people who are not just unable to hear but who fully participate in Deaf culture: they belong to Deaf groups, use American Sign Language, etc. Machinima is a term for movies that are made with software not intended for filmmaking: usually videogame software. By carefully orchestrating and recording the play of certain videogames, machinima enthusiasts can use the highly realistic graphics engines of the games to produce very sophisticated animated films.
Do you have further suggestions for OUP’s American Dictionaries? Want to start lobbying for the 2006 WOTY? Send your candidates, questions, and citations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: For more on the possible – and truely tasteless – etymology of “squick,” go to gawker.com.