WOTY nomination: Obamacare

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 13 16:08:06 UTC 2013

On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 9:19 AM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake wrote:
> The subject line pretty much says it all.  (I'm actually not fond of
> "Obamacare," preferring "the Affordable Care Act," but there you go.)
> I see I'm in good company in thinking of this as a WOTY candidate:
> Allan Metcalf brought up "Obamacare" in his October 8 column for
> Lingua Franca,
> http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/10/08/word-of-the-year-obamacare/
> Fred Shapiro sent along a message in July that pushes "Obamacare" back
> to 2007 [1].  And I see that Victor Steinbok mentioned "Obamacare" as
> a possible WOTY contender even back in 2010.

"Obamacare" has come up a few times in the nominating process. In the
'08 vote, the Most Useful category was won by "Barack Obama, both
names as combining forms." In the writeup for "Among the New Words"
(AmSp Spring 2009 84(1): 83-101), "Obamacare" is included in a long
list of Obama-forms:


In '09, I included it in my nominee list, but it didn't get any traction:


And then in the '10 WOTY vote, we included it in a special category of
"election terms" that we eventually decided wasn't worth our time. But
I agree with Allan that its time may finally have come.

For more on the term, and how it was reclaimed by Democrats, see my
Boston Globe column from April of last year:



Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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