January 08, 2012

WOTY 2011: Occupy, followed by FOMO

No big surprises. The American Dialect Society's choice for Word of the Year (WOTY) is "occupy." (It received 82 out of 174 votes.) More interesting, in my opinion, is the runner-up, the acronym "FOMO" (fear of missing out), "describing anxiety over being inundated by information on social media," and another word among the runner-ups, "humblebrag," the "expression of false humility, especially by celebrities on Twitter," which also won in the category "most useful" new word (it can be used as a noun or a verb). Looking at the processes used to create these words, there's a nice mix of semantic extension ('occupy'), an acronym ('FOMO'), and compounding ('humblebrag').

Winner in the category "most creative" was "Mellencamp," "a woman who has aged out of being a 'cougar,'" after the singer John Cougar Mellencamp. Let's just say the word won't win any political correctness prizes any time soon. An honorable mention goes to "bunga bunga," the word for sex parties that allegedly involved Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. This adds an eponym and reduplication to our mix of processes involved to create new words.

Access all previous winners here.

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