GOOD

Word of the Year 2010: What Will It Be?

From "Tea Party" to "boobquake" to "vuvuzela" to "refudiate," the candidates for 2010's Word of the Year tell us quite a lot about life last year.

\n
From "Tea Party" to "boobquake" to "vuvuzela" to "refudiate," the candidates for 2010's Word of the Year tell us quite a lot about life today.

Most dictionaries, word-obsessed groups, and individual linguists have already selected their 2010 Word of the Year—the picks have included “refudiate,” “spillcam,” “austerity,” “WTF,” “junk,” and “no.” But the big one is still coming up: During its January 6 to 8 meeting in Pittsburgh, the American Dialect Society will make its choice for WOTY, plus many subcategories such as “Most Euphemistic” and “Most Likely to Succeed.” It’s the oldest such contest, and the only one that’s not trying to sell anything—except maybe a wider appreciation for new words and wordlust in general. For word nerds, ADS is the Oscars.

Everyone has his own idea of what a WOTY should be, but the ADS insists the word (or phrase) should be “new or newly popular in 2010,” “widely or prominently used in 2010,” and “indicative or reflective of the popular discourse.” The best previous winners have been words that rose to prominence and then ended up a part of the lexicon afterward—like “weapons of mass destruction” in 2003. Then again, it’s hard to argue that certain flash-in-the-pan winners weren’t good representatives of their year—like “Y2K” in 1999. Once, the ADS was able to symbolically nail a year while launching a word into the mainstream: in 2005, they (including me) voted Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” as WOTY well before it was popular. Lucky for us, “truthiness” exploded afterward, justifying our choice retroactively.

I won’t be in Pittsburgh to make my own soliloquies and rants on behalf of various words, so I thought I would take a look at five strong WOTY contenders. With apologies to spillcam, hashtag, robo-signer, WikiLeaks, hit the slide, and all the other words covered admirably by Grant Barrett, Nancy Friedman, and Ben Zimmer, the envelopes please...

Refudiate
Sarah Palin’s melding of “refute” and “refudiate” led to plenty of snickering jokes and a tsunami of attention, landing this goof on everybody’s radar. It was a great publicity-grabbing choice for New Oxford American Dictionary WOTY, since lots of people were pleased or perturbed at the choice, because they dislike Palin, worship Palin, or mistakenly thought the word was getting into NOAD itself. For the record, I think “refudiate” will get in dictionaries eventually. This politician-propelled term is potentially very useful, and it’s always tempting to hold onto a word with such a clear launching point (even though it was used pre-Palin too).
Pros: It went from nowhere to everywhere in 2010, and word blends are always among the most successful new words.
Cons: Aren’t we all a little Palin-ed out? She’s making Brett Favre feel fresh.

Inception
I saw Inception three times in the theater and loved it more than anything I’ve seen since Christ was a cowboy. So I'm a tad biased. Still, you can’t deny that the word “inception,” though old, felt new and was prominent in 2010.
Pros: Did I mention the movie rocked?
Cons: Much as I love the concept of breaking into people’s dreams to plant an idea, it’s pretty much limited to Inception-heads and real-world dream thieves funded by Obamacare (another WOTY candidate, I would say).

Vuvuzela
This word was everywhere as World Cup mania gripped the entire planet, even the United States, this summer. I still think the best comment on this annoying, buzzy, instrument of torture was the Twitter account “vuvuzelahorn,” which tweeted nothing but “ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ-ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ-ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ-ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.”
Pros: Another word that went supernova in 2010. It’s memorable, unique, and fun to say.
Cons: Thor willing, we shouldn’t have much use for this word in the future, so we might as well stop paying attention to it.

Boobquake
Perhaps you’ve forgotten Boobquake Day, but this word deserves mention for a few reasons: (1) it was part of a powerful, humorous protest again misogynistic insanity; (2) it was pro-science, and (3) it featured lots of boobs. No other word can match that trifecta. In 10 years, I predict Boobquake Day will rival Festivus as one of our most successful invented holidays.
Pros: All of the above. How can you oppose a boobquake?
Cons: I suppose if you think the WOTY should possess gravitas, you could oppose a boobquake.

Tea Party
This political movement went supernova in 2010, influencing the mid-term shellacking (FYI, another WOTY candidate) suffered by the Democrats and turning up in eleventy-billion news stories. The term has had a literal meaning since the late 1700’s, and has taken on a surprisingly large number of other uses over the years, including a hubbub or brouhaha, a bong-soaked gathering (in reference to the weed meaning of “tea”), and, as the OED puts it, “bland, insipid, trite, trivial.” For that sense, the OED collects references to “dull English tea-party stuff” and “Liberal do-gooders with a tea-party attitude towards race” that sure don’t apply to the Tea Party of today.
Pros: Mega-ubiquitousness.
Cons: Because of the politics involved, this choice would cause irrational glee and anger, two cans of worms that might be best left unopened.


What's your choice for the Word of the Year 2010?

Articles
Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture