Nominations for 2011 Word of the Year

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jan 23 16:58:00 UTC 2012

On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 9:31 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> How in the world did "surge" not only not win but not even get
> nominated?  Or perhaps you-all were waiting for the greater number of
> Republican primaries and polls in 2012?  But if so, you may have
> missed the crest -- I think each of the candidates has already had
> his or her cresting, and we are now (to mix a metaphor) coming to the
> neap times.
> Saturday the Boston Globe had "surge" in the first paragraph of its
> lead article, and Sunday the New York Times had "surge" in the
> subhead of its lead article.

There was no surge for "surge," simply because it never came up at the
nominating session or the main WOTY voting session. It may not have
been on anyone's radar since it is neither a neologism nor an old word
given new significance (like, say, "occupy").

The noun "surge" was considered in the 2006 WOTY voting in the Most
Euphemistic category (defined as "an increase in troop strength"),
though it lost out to "waterboarding." At least the military sense of
"surge" (as opposed to the various surging presidential candidates)
offered a new wrinkle, usage-wise. Notably, the verb could be used
transitively, as in "to surge troops into Iraq." More here:


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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