#HASHTAGSMATTER

The American Dialect Society’s word of the year is not a word

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#blacklivesmatter is word of the year.

The 126-year-old American Dialect Society (ADS) was one of the first organizations to reflect on 12 months of language use and pronounce some word or phrase the most important of the year. Made up of language enthusiasts ranging from amateur to professional, the society meets once a year to nominate and vote for the title.

Think of it as the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards of linguistics.

A new category was introduced this year: Most Notable Hashtag. If treating Twitter hashtags as words wasn’t enough linguistic controversy, ADS overwhelmingly selected a nominee from that category for its grand title of word of the year. The society voted late last week, and #blacklivesmatter easily beat competitors like “columbusing” and “bae.”

“While #blacklivesmatter may not fit the traditional definition of a word, it demonstrates how powerfully a hashtag can convey a succinct social message,” said Ben Zimmer, chair of the society’s New Words Committee, in an official statement. “Language scholars are paying attention to the innovative linguistic force of hashtags, and #blacklivesmatter was certainly a forceful example of this in 2014.”

Here are the full results for all the categories, including total number of votes and definitions provided by ADS. There are some gems.

Word of the Year

Category-Word-of-the-Year-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

#blacklivesmatter: hashtag used as protest over blacks killed at the hands of police (esp. Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in Staten Island).

bae: a sweetheart or romantic partner.

columbusing: cultural appropriation, especially the act of a white person claiming to discover things already known to minority cultures.

even: deal with or reconcile difficult situations or emotions (from “I can’t even”).

manspreading: of a man, to sit with one’s legs wide on public transit in a way that blocks other seats.

Most Useful

Category-Most-Useful-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

even: deal with or reconcile difficult situations or emotions (from “I can’t even”).

budtender: a person who specializes in serving marijuana to consumers, especially in legal dispensaries.

Ebola: deadly virus that, in 2014, killed thousands in West Africa.

robocar: a self-driving car.

unbothered: not annoyed or distracted.

Most Creative

Category-Most-Creative-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

columbusing: cultural appropriation, especially the act of a white person claiming to discover things already known to minority cultures.

manspreading: of a man, to sit with one’s legs wide on public transit in a way that blocks other seats.

misogynoir: misogyny directed toward black women.

narcissistick (or narcisstick): pejorative term for a selfie stick.

Most Unnecessary

Category-Most-Unnecessary-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

baeless: without a romantic partner (lacking a bae).

narcissistick (or narcisstick): pejorative term for a selfie stick.

basic: plain, socially awkward, unattractive, uninteresting, ignorant, pathetic, uncool, etc.

lumbersexual: fashionably rugged man who adopts the stereotypical dress and facial hair of a lumberjack.

Most Outrageous

Category-Most-Outrageous-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

second-amendment: v. to kill (someone) with a gun, used ironically by gun control supporters.

God view: display mode used by ride-sharing service Uber providing employees with real-time information on all users.

sugar-dating: pay-to-play relationship between an older, wealthier person (sugar daddy/momma) and a younger partner (sugar baby).

Most Euphemistic

Category-Most-Euphemistic-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

EIT: abbreviation for the already euphemistic “enhanced interrogation technique.”

conscious uncoupling: a divorce or romantic separation by polite mutual agreement.

bye, Felicia: a dismissive farewell to someone deemed unimportant.

thirsty: so hungry for a romantic partner as to appear desperate.

Most Likely to Succeed

Category-Most-Likely-to-Succeed-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

salty: exceptionally bitter, angry, or upset.

basic: plain, socially awkward, unattractive, uninteresting, ignorant, pathetic, uncool, etc.

budtender: a person who specializes in serving marijuana to consumers, especially in legal dispensaries.

casual: a new or inexperienced person, especially a gamer (also in filthy casual).

plastiglomerate: type of stone made of melted plastic, beach sediment, and organic debris.

selfie stick: a pole to which a smartphone is attached to take selfies from a distance.

Least Likely to Succeed

Category-Least-Likely-to-Succeed-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

platisher: online media publisher that also serves as a platform for creating content.

normcore: “anti-fashion” trend of adopting an intentionally ordinary, inexpensive personal style from cheap off-the-shelf brands.

pairage: term proposed by Utah legislator Kraig Powell to refer to same-sex marriages.

Most Notable Hashtag

Category-Most-Notable-Hashtag-And-the-winner-is-_chartbuilder

#blacklivesmatter: protest over blacks killed at the hands of police (esp. Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in Staten Island).

#icantbreathe: final words of Eric Garner, turned into rallying cry against police violence.

#notallmen: response by men to discussions of sexual abuse, sexism, or misogyny that they see as portraying all men as perpetrators (countered by#yesallwomen, used by women sharing stories of bias, harassment, or abuse).

#whyistayed: explanation by women about staying in abusive domestic relationships.

 

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