More words of the year 2008

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Flag of United States  , New York
Saturday, January 17, 2009

The chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, Grant Barrett, said "When you vote for bailout, I guess you're really voting for 'hope' and 'change,' too. Though you'd think a room full of pointy-headed intellectuals could come up with something more exciting." In addition to the overall Word of the Year, the American Dialect Society named other top words of 2008 [9]

* Most Useful: Barack Obama (both names as combining forms)
* Most Creative: recombobulation area (An area at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee in which passengers that have just passed through security screening can get their clothes and belongings back in order.)
* Most Unnecessary: moofing (From "mobile out of office," meaning working on the go with a laptop and cell phone. Created by a PR firm.)
* Most Outrageous: terrorist fist jab (A knuckle-to-knuckle fist bump, or "dap," traditionally performed between two black people as a sign of friendship, celebration or agreement. It was called the "terrorist fist jab" by the newscaster E. D. Hill, formerly of Fox News.)
* Most Euphamistic: scooping technician (A person whose job it is to pick up dog poop.)
* Most Likely to Succeed: shovel-ready (Used to describe infrastructure projects that can be started quickly when funds become available.)
* Least Likely to Succeed: PUMA (An acronym for Party Unity My Ass, used by Democrats who were disaffected after Hillary Clinton failed to secure a sufficient number of delegates. It was later said to stand for People United Means Action.)
* Election-Related Word: maverick (A person who is beholden to no one. Widely used by the Republican Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, John McCain and Sarah Palin. Also in the adjectival form mavericky, used by Tina Fey portraying Palin on Saturday Night Live.)

The Global Language Monitor on December 1 announced[10] that change was it top word of 2008, followed by bailout and Obamamania. It noted that if it included 'obama-' as a root word or word stem, Obama- in its many forms (ObamaMania, Obamamentum, Obmanomics, Obamacize, Obamanation, etc.), would have overtaken both change, and bailout for the top spot. It also named financial tsunami as the top phrase, and Barack Obama as the top name.[11]

New World Dictionary has announced its short list for 2008's Word of the Year [12] and is inviting public opinion on the following final five contenders:

* leisure sickness (noun): a purported syndrome, not universally recognized by psychologists, by which some people (typically characterized as workaholics) are more likely to report feeling ill during weekends and vacations than when working[13]
* overshare (verb): to divulge excessive personal information, as in a blog or broadcast interview, prompting reactions ranging from alarmed discomfort to approval[14]
* cyberchondriac (noun): a hypochondriac who imagines that he or she has a particular disease based on medical information gleaned from the Internet[15]
* selective ignorance (noun): the practice of selectively ignoring distracting, irrelevant, or otherwise unnecessary information received, such as e-mails, news reports, etc.[16]
* youthanasia (noun): " ... the controversial practice of performing a battery of age-defying medical procedures to end lifeless skin and wrinkles; advocated by some as a last-resort measure to put the chronically youth-obsessed out of their misery ... Think of it as mercy lifting." -Armand Limnander, New York Times[17]

Webster's New World Dictionary's final Word of the Year selection will be announced via streaming video by Editor-in-Chief Mike Agnes on December 1, 2008.

The New Oxford American Dictionary selected hypermiling, a term used in North America that refers to a set of techniques used to maximize fuel economy, as its Word of the Year for 2008.[18]

from Wikipedia

Word of the Year Finalists:

frugalista - person who leads a frugal lifestyle, but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying second-hand, growing own produce, etc.

moofer - a mobile out of office worker - ie. someone who works away from a fixed workplace, via Blackberry/laptop/wi-fi etc. (also verbal noun, moofing)

topless meeting - a meeting in which the participants are barred from using their laptops, Blackberries, cellphones, etc.

toxic debt - mainly sub-prime debts that are now proving so disastrous to banks. They were parceled up and sent around the global financial system like toxic waste, hence the allusion.
Word of the Year Shortlist:

CarrotMob, carrot mob - a flashmob type of gathering, in which people are invited via the Net to all support and reward a local small ethical business such as a shop or café by all patronizing it at the same time. Also as noun, carrotmobbing.

ecohacking (also known as geoengineering) - the use of science in very large-scale projects to change the environment for the better/stop global warming (e.g. by using mirrors in space to deflect sunlight away from Earth).

hockey mom - like a soccer mom, but one who is supportive of her ice-hockey playing kids, as popularized by Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin

link bait - content on a website that encourages [baits] a user to place links to it from other websites

luchador - a wrestler, an exponent of lucha libre [Mexican Spanish, lit. = 'free wrestling', a form of professional wrestling originating in Mexico and popular in Latin America, with spectacular moves, showy costumes, etc.]

rewilding - the process of returning an area to its original wild state/flora/fauna etc.

staycation - vacation taken at or near one's home, taking day trips, etc.

tweet - a short message sent via the Twitter service, using a cellphone or other mobile device.

wardrobe - has become a verb, as in: Ms. Mendes has a long-standing relationship with the house of Calvin Klein and has been wardrobed by Calvin Klein Collection.



THIS year, the American Dialect Society selected "bailout" as its word of 2008. That means it was the one which the society's members felt was the most relevant to the events of the year.

Earlier in the year, the editors and lexicographers at Merriam-Webster, one of the most well-known dictionary publishers in the US, made the same choice.

It was also the second most-nominated word of the year from the general public in a tally I've been keeping since November.

Every year, my lexical and linguistic colleagues and I gather to pick the special word (or phrase). It's nothing like the gatherings of the Academie Française, which is the official language body of France.

Our gathering is a more freewheeling affair (meaning, largely unstructured and without rules), and is meant to be fun. It's whimsical.

Still, as the new head of the society's new words committee, I can't help but feel that this year, like last year when we chose "subprime", we've really come into touch through our grand prize-winner "bailout" with the serious and important preoccupations of the American people.

Bailout is kind of a stand-in for all the financial problems that have slowly been growing worse over the last couple of years. Large businesses are failing and, as a result, they are seeking aid from the vastly wealthy federal government.

That aid, no matter what form it takes -loans, credit guarantees, or even just free handouts with no strings attached (meaning that the money is given and nothing is expected in return except that the recipient should thrive) - is called a bailout.

There are a couple of kinds of bailing out that are related to the financial bailout in the minds of English-speakers, although the one from which it truly springs is uncertain.

To bail out a boat means to use a bucket or some other container to scoop water out of the vessel so that it doesn't sink. This comes from the French baille, meaning "tub" or "vat".

You can envision, surely, the US$700bil federal bailout plan as if the US Government were scooping big bundles of cash out of its treasury and into the accounts of failing businesses, although the thing being scooped in that case is the solution rather than the problem. Greed and stupidity are not so easily removed.

Interestingly, if something is worth less than the amount that is owed on it, such as a house that has dropped to US$450,000 in value but for which the homeowner still owes US$600,000 to the bank who loaned the money for the house, then it is said to be underwater.

To bail out of an airplane means to leap from it, usually in an emergency situation. Presumably, one will only bail out of an airplane if one has a parachute or some other guarantee that death by airplane wouldn't merely be replaced with death by gravity.

Again, you can likely envision how this might be related to the financial bailout. There's an idea of escaping from a dangerous situation. However, this, too, is not a perfect metaphor, because to bailout from the financial predicament would be an acknowledgement of defeat.

If the financial bailout were literally the same as bailing out of an airplane, it would mean that we are fleeing from the smoking hulk that is screaming towards the earth rather than trying to fix it mid-air.

This kind of bailout has a couple of related slang meanings. For example, if you are about to leave a place with your friends, you might say "Let's bail", meaning, "Let's leave".

Also, if someone has offered, say, to help you move your belongings into a new home, but then they did not appear at the appointed hour, you might say, "They bailed on me", meaning, "They didn't show up and do the thing they said they would". The "on" here is important, because "they bailed me" is nonsensical.

Another kind of bail is the money offered to a court as a way of guaranteeing that a criminal suspect will appear some time afterwards for trial.

It's a way of ensuring that the milder criminals don't clog up the jails and prisons. This, too, comes from Old French, from the verb bailer, "to take charge of".

To jump bail, then, is to leave town despite the large sums of money that someone has given to ensure that you would not do that very thing, which is called standing bail.

A judge is likely to accept bail only for a criminal who is not a flight risk, that is, likely to flee. Leaving town in this way is also sometimes jokingly called foot bail.

This kind of bail can also be compared to the financial situation.

In some cases, the money the US federal government is giving to industry is a way of ensuring that these companies do not go bankrupt.

Bankruptcy, I suppose, is a kind of fleeing the scene of where something has gone terribly wrong.

The bail being offered here is a bailout money that is kind of a reassurance to the market as a whole that the major players in the economy intend to stay the course.

In any case, we are scooping the water out of the boat as fast as we can and hope to have the vessel safely dockside as soon as possible.
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