Nominations for 2011 Word of the Year

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jan 23 17:34:46 UTC 2012

On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 12:17 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> At 1/23/2012 11:58 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> >...
> >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").
>  From the ADS pages, I see no such requirement.  Rather, "Word of the
> Year ... The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they
> have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year."

Didn't say it was a requirement -- just speculating why it didn't
occur to anyone to nominate it. We've certainly had words win that had
shown prominence but not much lexicosemantic novelty in the year in
question -- "bailout" for 2008 comes to mind.

> And is there a category for a word used to death?

The suggestion of having a "Most Overused" category has come up from
time to time. (Additional categories can always be created on the spot
if there's enough interest.) Such a category might put us into the
icky terrain of LSSU's Banished Words list, though we already cast
non-descriptivist judgments for Most Unnecessary, Most Outrageous,


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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