Words of the Year - Decade - Century - Millennium

AAllan at AOL.COM AAllan at AOL.COM
Sun Jan 9 19:23:29 UTC 2000

(Special bulletin: If you turn to ABC-TV Evening News today Sunday, Jan 9,
you just might find Wayne Glowka discussing these choices.)


(preliminary announcement)

The American Dialect Society's newly chosen words of the year, decade,
century, and millennium need no introduction. But they could use an

Word of the Year 1999 was Y2K.

Word of the 1990s Decade was Web.

Word of the Twentieth Century was jazz.

Word of the past Millennium was she.

Yes, she, the feminine pronoun. Before the year 1000, there was no "she" in
English; just "heo," which also meant "they." But thanks either to the Viking
invasions or some other obscure reason, women got a pronoun of their own in
the second millennium. By a runoff vote of 35 to 27, "she" edged out
"science" as Word of the Millennium.

The words were chosen at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago on January 7,
2000, during the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society. About 70
members and friends of the Society were present to discuss and vote on
nominees selected earlier in the day.

Voting began with Words of the Year 1999. These words were chosen in
particular categories:

Most Useful: "dot-com," company operating on the Web.

Most Unnecessary: "milly," dance for the millennium commissioned by the city
of Chicago.

Most Likely to Succeed: "dot-com."

Most Outrageous: "humanitarian intervention," military force used for
humanitarian purposes.

Most Original: "cybersquat," to register a Web address intending to sell it
for a profit.

Most Euphemistic: "compassionate conservative," Dubya's political label.

Brand New (not attested before 1999): "Pokemania," obsession with Pokemon.

It took only one vote to choose "Y2K" as Word of the Year. Of the final
nominees, "Y2K" got 55 votes, "dot-com" 5, "cybersquat" 2, and "Pokemania" 0.

For Word of the Decade, "Web" received 45 votes, the prefix "e-" 10, "way"
meaning "yes" 4, the prefix "Franken" meaning "genetically modified" as in
"Frankenfood" 2, "ethnic cleansing" 0, and "senior moment" 0.

For Word of the Century, "jazz" got 50 votes to about 12 for runner-up "DNA."
Also in the running were the slang "cool," "media," "teenager," "T-shirt,"
"acronym," "teddy bear," "World War," and "melting pot."

For Word of the Millennium, other candidates were the article "the," "OK,"
"freedom," "book," "human," "justice," "truth," "language," "government,"
"news," "nature," "history," and "go."

Even more details will appear in the Newsletter of the American Dialect
Society at the end of the month.

- Allan Metcalf

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