NEW OXFORD AMERICAN DICTIONARY’S 2010 WORD OF THE YEAR IS…
Followers of Sarah Palin’s Twitter account will undoubtedly recognize the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2010:
Refudiate: A Historical Perspective
An unquestionable buzzword in 2010, the word refudiate instantly evokes the name of Sarah Palin, who tweeted her way into a flurry of media activity when she used the word in certain statements posted on Twitter. Critics pounced on Palin, lampooning what they saw as nonsensical vocabulary and speculating on whether she meant “refute” or “repudiate.”
From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used “refudiate,” we have concluded that neither “refute” nor “repudiate” seems consistently precise, and that “refudiate” more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of “reject.”
Although Palin is likely to be forever branded with the coinage of “refudiate,” she is by no means the first person to speak or write it—just as Warren G. Harding was not the first to use the word normalcy when he ran his 1920 presidential campaign under the slogan “A return to normalcy.” But Harding was a political celebrity, as Palin is now, and his critics spared no ridicule for his supposedly ignorant mangling of the correct word “normality.”
In addition, forming a word by merging two together (technically called “a blend”) can be useful and has a long established pedigree, as evidenced by words we take for granted in modern usage but which started life as blends: for example, brunch, acupressure, smog, and motel.
For more on “refudiate” and other political coinages, click here.
To learn more about the meaning of “refudiate,” click here.
The Short List
In alphabetical order, here are our top ten finalists for the 2010 Word of the Year selection:
bankster noun (informal) a member of the banking industry perceived as a predator that grows rich at the expense of those affected by an economic recession: trillions of dollars are flowing to the banksters in the form of near-zero interest loans.
[origin — 1930s: blend of banker and gangster]
crowdsourcing noun the practice whereby an organization enlists a variety of freelancers, paid or unpaid, to work on a specific task or problem: Kodak used social media crowdsourcing to engage its customers in their naming contest.
[origin — early 21st cent.: on the pattern of outsourcing]
double-dip adjective denoting or relating to a recession during which a period of economic decline is followed by a brief period of growth, followed by a further period of decline: higher food and energy prices could increase the risk of a double-dip recession.
gleek noun (informal) a fan of the television series Glee.
[origin — early 21st cent.: blend of Glee and geek]
nom nom (informal) exclamation an expression of delight when eating.
plural noun (nom noms) delicious food.
verb (nom-nom) eat delicious food with obvious enjoyment.
adjective (nom-nommy) descriptive of delicious food.
[origin — imitative; popularized by the noises made by the character Cookie Monster on Sesame Street (usually as “Om nom nom nom”)]
retweet verb (on the social networking service Twitter) repost or forward (a message posted by another user): people love to retweet job ads.
noun a reposted or forwarded message on Twitter.
Tea Party a US political party that emerged from a movement of conservatives protesting the federal government in 2009.
[origin — with allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773]
top kill noun a procedure designed to seal a leaking oil well, whereby large amounts of a material heavier than the oil—e.g., mud—are pumped into the affected well.
vuvuzela noun (also called vuvu) a long horn blown by fans at soccer matches.
[origin — origin unknown, perhaps from Zulu]
webisode noun 1. an original episode derived from a television series, made for online viewing.
2. an online video that presents an original short film or promotes a product, movie, or television series.
[origin — 1990s: blend of Web and episode]
About the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year:
Among their other activities, lexicographers at Oxford University Press track how the vocabulary of the English language is changing from year to year. Every year, the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year is debated and chosen, with the selection made to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance and use.
The New Oxford American Dictionary Third Edition is now available. With more than 350,000 words, phrases, and definitions, as well as fascinating in-text features, a unique, clear arrangement, and thoroughly up-to-date coverage of current English, the New Oxford American Dictionary is Oxford’s flagship American dictionary.
Click here to learn more about the most fascinating words of 2010!