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2021 Word of the Year is “Insurrection”

January 7th, 2022 § Comments Off on 2021 Word of the Year is “Insurrection” § permalink

The American Dialect Society, in its 32nd annual words-of-the-year vote, selected “insurrection” as the Word of the Year for 2021. While the selection is typically held in person at the society’s annual meeting, for the second year in a row the event was conducted as a webinar open to all who were interested in attending via Zoom. More than three hundred attendees took part in the deliberations and voting.

Presiding at the Jan. 7 voting session was Ben Zimmer, chair of the ADS New Words Committee and language columnist for the Wall Street Journal

“More than a year after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the nation is still coming to grips with what happened that day,” Zimmer said. “At the time, words like coup, sedition, and riot were used to describe the disturbing events at the Capitol, but insurrection – a term for a violent attempt to take control of the government – is the one that many felt best encapsulates the threat to democracy experienced that day. The lasting effects of that insurrection will be felt for years to come.”

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. 

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 132-year-old organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, 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.

Read the full press release, including all winners, candidates, and vote tallies for all candidates.

All previous years’ winners are listed here.

 

Nominations for Words of the Year 2021

January 7th, 2022 § Comments Off on Nominations for Words of the Year 2021 § permalink

Nominations for Words of the Year 2021 follow below.
The final selection will be held at 5 p.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 in a virtual livestream vote.


American Dialect Society Words of the Year (2021)

NOMINATIONS to be voted on in the Word of the Year virtual event, Jan. 7, 2022

POLITICAL WORD OF THE YEAR

  • Big Lie: propagandistic distortion of truth, as in Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was “stolen”
  • CRT/critical race theory: framework for analyzing how racism is embedded in law and policies, exploited as a scare tactic by politicians favoring “anti-CRT” legislation 
  • insurrection: violent attempt to take control of a government, applied to the Capitol attack of Jan. 6, 2021
  • mandate: official or authoritative command, as in politically contentious “mask mandates” and “vaccine mandates” 

DIGITAL WORD OF THE YEAR

  • bones day/no bones day: prediction of whether a day will be good or bad (based on Jonathan Graziano’s TikTok videos of his dog Noodle getting up in the morning)
  • #FreeBritney: hashtag for those supporting the release of Britney Spears from the conservatorship set up by her father 13 years ago
  • horny jail: imagined place a person is sent to as punishment for being excessively sexual on social media
  • parasocial: describing a relationship that a person imagines with someone whom they do not actually know, such as a celebrity on an online platform

PANDEMIC-RELATED WORD OF THE YEAR (special category)

  • boosted: having received a booster shot, as for Covid-19 (also boostered/boosterized)
  • breakthrough: describing an infection, as from coronavirus, after a person has been vaccinated
  • Delta/Omicron: Greek-letter names assigned by the World Health Organization for coronavirus “variants of concern”
  • long Covid: lingering symptoms and health problems experienced by people after they have recovered from Covid
  • variant: new form of a virus, such as coronavirus, resulting from mutations
  • vax/vaxx: shortened form of vaccine, vaccination, or vaccinate, often used as combining form (as in anti-vaxxer, Hot Vax Summer, double/triple-vaxxed, vaxxed and relaxed)

FINANCIAL/ECONOMIC (special category)

  • The Great Resignation: pandemic-era phenomenon in which workers are leaving their jobs in large numbers 
  • NFT: abbreviation for non-fungible token, a digital asset using blockchain technology to make a unique token, with its own identification that cannot be replicated
  • SPAC: abbreviation for special purpose acquisition company, an investment vehicle that allows a company to go public without going through the traditional IPO process
  • stimmy: shortened form of stimulus, used in reference to government stimulus checks
  • stonk: deliberate misspelling of stock, used by online day traders for their investments, esp. for “meme stocks” like Gamestop (aka Gamestonk
  • supply chain: interconnected global system of supplying goods and services to consumers, put in jeopardy by the pandemic 

INFORMAL WORD OF THE YEAR

  • cheugy: term used by members of Generation Z to poke fun at the off-trend lifestyles and fashions of millennials
  • down bad: used to describe intense (typically sexual) desperation
  • flop era: time in which a person, such as a pop star, enters an unsuccessful period
  • yassify: to apply image filters to a person’s photo to transform it into a cartoonishly beautiful image

EUPHEMISM OF THE YEAR

  • election integrity: euphemism used for voter suppression
  • glizzy: slang term for a hot dog (also used to describe fellatio, as in glizzy gobbling)
  • Let’s Go Brandon: playful euphemism for “Fuck Joe Biden,” based on a sports reporter mishearing a chant while interviewing stock-car racer Brandon Brown
  • TFG: abbreviation for “the former guy,” an expression used by President Biden to refer to his predecessor Trump without saying his name
  • unalive: term used as a substitute for “suicide” to avoid social media filters

MOST CREATIVE

  • chin diaper: face mask worn below the chin instead of properly covering the nose and mouth
  • copium: the rationalizations, justifications, and denial one uses to deal with a severe letdown or personal failure. A blend of cope + opium
  • -core: productive suffix for aesthetic trends, such as gorpcore (functional outdoorsy gear), emancicore (non-restrictive clothing emphasizing freedom), and goblincore (chaotic aesthetic inspired by goblin folklore)
  • Fauci ouchie: rhyming phrase for a Covid-19 vaccine, in honor of Dr. Anthony Fauci 

MOST USEFUL

  • bussin’: extremely good, such as food that is indescribably tasty
  • hard pants: pants that lack an elastic waistband or stretchy fabric, unlike the “soft pants” favored by those working from home during the pandemic
  • tone indicator: code such as “/srs” or “/lol” that indicates the tone (serious, ironic, humorous) of online discourse
  • vibe: mood or emotion, such as the positive feelings evoked by a piece of music; also as a verb: to exult in one’s good feelings

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED

  • endemic: describing a disease that is always present in a community or population, as some predict will be the case for Covid-19
  • mid: of average or poor quality, or simply decent, in the amorphous slang of Generation Z
  • NFT: abbreviation for non-fungible token, a digital asset using blockchain technology to make a unique token, with its own identification that cannot be replicated
  • sigma male: term used in the masculinist “manosphere” for a male who is more introverted than an “alpha male” but is still considered successful
  • shrinkflation: reduction of the size or quantity of a product while the price remains the same or even rises 

WORD OF THE YEAR 

  • Big Lie: propagandistic distortion of truth, as in Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was “stolen”
  • The Great Resignation: pandemic-era phenomenon in which workers are leaving their jobs in large numbers 
  • insurrection: violent attempt to take control of a government, applied to the Capitol attack of Jan. 6, 2021
  • long Covid: lingering symptoms and health problems experienced by people after they have recovered from Covid
  • Omicron: name assigned by the World Health Organization for a highly contagious “variant of concern” of the coronavirus
  • variant: new form of a virus, such as coronavirus, resulting from mutations
  • vax/vaxx: shortened form of vaccine, vaccination, or vaccinate, often used as combining form (as in anti-vaxxer, Hot Vax Summer, double/triple-vaxxed, vaxxed and relaxed)

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