2011 Word of the Year shows how old words take on new meanings

American Dialect Society | Visual Thesaurus
The American Dialect Society has chosen “occupy” as the 2011 Word of the Year. “It has taken on new parts of speech (as an imperative verb: ‘Occupy!’ or as an attributive noun: ‘the Occupy movement’) and new meanings, related to the protest movement and its style of demonstrations,” Ben Zimmer, chair of the organization’s New Words Committee, told me. “It was also remarkable how the word itself contributed to the movement’s success.” Also considered for Word of the Year: “humblebrag,” an expression of false humility; “job creator,” a member of the top one-percent of moneymakers; and “FOMO,” an acronym for “fear of missing out,” which is anxiety created by the flood of information on social networking sites. You can read the full list after the jump. || Earlier: How the word “occupy” fueled the protestsHashtags helped cement ‘occupy’ and ‘winning’ as memorable words of 2011

AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY VOTE TALLIES
The number after each nomination is the number of votes it received. Numbers separated by slash marks indicate a run-off. Voting totals for each category might not be identical because the number of voters might have changed for each category.

WORD OF THE YEAR

  • occupy – verb, noun, and combining form referring to the Occupy protest movement. 82/174, WINNER
  • FOMO – acronym for “Fear of Missing Out,” describing anxiety over being inundated by information on social media. 41/28
  • the 99%, 99 percenters – those held to be at a financial or political disadvantage to the top moneymakers, the one-percenters. 43/24
  • humblebrag – expression of false humility, especially by celebrities on Twitter. 30
  • job creator – a member of the top one-percent of moneymakers. 4

MOST USEFUL

  • humblebrag – expression of false humility, especially by celebrities on Twitter. 87/121 WINNER
  • occupy – verb, noun, and combining form referring to the Occupy protest movement. 70/102
  • FOMO – acronym for “Fear of Missing Out,” describing anxiety over being inundated by information on social media. 25
  • tablet – lightweight portable computer with a touchscreen to input data. 30

MOST CREATIVE

  • Mellencamp – a woman who has aged out of being a “cougar” (after John Cougar Mellencamp). 103 WINNER
  • bunga bunga – name for sex parties allegedly involving former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. 21
  • kardash – unit of measurement consisting of 72 days, after the short-lived marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries (coined by Weird Al Yankovic). 82
  • put a bird on it – to add artistic flair to something, usu. used ironically or humorously. 23

MOST UNNECESSARY

  • bi-winning – term used by Charlie Sheen to describe himself pridefully, dismissing accusations of being bipolar. 77/156 WINNER
  • amazeballs – slang form for “amazing.” 82/85
  • planking – posing for a photograph, esp. in a public place, with one’s body in a stiff, prone
  • position, for circulation online. 13
  • Qwikster: short-lived Netflix spinoff of its DVD rental sservice, separated from its streaming. 44

MOST OUTRAGEOUS

  • assholocracy – rule by obnoxious multi-millionaires. 166 WINNER
  • deather – one who doubts the official story of the killing of Osama bin Laden. 35
  • botoxionist – a doctor who administers Botox injections. 1
  • American Dialect Society: Words of the Year 3
  • American Dialect Society 2011 Word of the Year Vote – 3

MOST EUPHEMISTIC

  • job creator – a member of the top one-percent of moneymakers. 111 WINNER
  • artisan, artisanal – faux-fancy term used to describe food and other products. 78
  • regime alteration – alternative to “regime change” promoted by Obama administration in some Middle Eastern countries. 19
  • sugar-coated Satan sandwich: something bad on the inside that looks good on the outside, as used by Missouri U.S Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. 1

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED

  • cloud – online space for the large-scale processing and storage of data. 155 WINNER
  • Arab Spring – a series of popular uprisings in Middle Eastern countries against dictatorial regimes. 54
  • tiger mom, tiger mother – an exceedingly strict parent (after Amy Chua’s memoir, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”).

LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED

  • brony – adult male fan of the “My Little Pony” cartoon franchise. 103 WINNER
  • Tebowing – posing for photograph praying on one knee, after Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. 47
  • 9-9-9 – tax plan proposed by Herman Cain (9% business tax, 9% personal income tax, 9% federal sales tax). 65

OCCUPY WORDS (new category)

  • the 99%, 99 percenters – those held to be at a financial or political disadvantage to the top
  • moneymakers, the one-percenters. n-percenters, n-percent. 219 WINNER
  • occupy – verb, noun, and combining form referring to the Occupy protest movement. 17
  • people’s mic, human microphone – method of amplifying a person’s speech by having surrounding people repeat it line by line 7
  • twinkling – system of wiggly hand gestures to register approval or disapproval. 9

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  • Rachel Stone

    They should’ve credited “Portlandia” with “Put a bird on it.”