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NY Times: 'Geoengineering' considered Word of 2009 Print E-mail
Friday, 01 January 2010 05:39

Words of 2009 and the 2000s
JANUARY 1, 2010, 5:18 AM

As the year drew to a close, linguistic authorities from around the globe were busy selecting the words that defined 2009, and the decade.

Notable candidates – from Admonish to Vampire Squid – are collected below:
Words of 2009
Unfriend | To sever a virtual friendship on a social networking site.

The New Oxford American Dictionary

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Admonish | To express disapproval, as Rep. Joe Wilson did when he shouted “You lie!” at President Obama in September.

Merriam-Webster – based on online user enquiries

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Distracted Driving | Multitasking while in charge of a vehicle; a term now entering legal lexicons worldwide.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary

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Birther | Those who refuse to believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, and who therefore claim he is ineligible to be president.
Aporkalypse | Flippant nickname for the H1N1 “swine flu” apocalypse.
Government Motors | The latest nickname for General Motors, after the company’s federal bailout.
Meep | A nonsense word sometimes used disruptively by young people; originally attributed to Beaker from “The Muppet Show.”
Crash Blossom | A potentially misleading headline, like “Shark Attacks Puzzle Experts.”

Some of the words chosen by Mark Leibovich & Grant Barrett for The Week in Review

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Bossnapping | Preventing senior managers from leaving an office, as a protest against layoffs (the tactic made headlines in France).
Hashtag | The # (hash) symbol used as a tag on Twitter.
Geoengineering | Large-scale manipulation of the climate to mitigate the effects of global warming (also called eco-hacking).
Jeggings | Jeans + leggings.
Snollygoster | An unprincipled person (often applied to politicians).

Some of the words chosen by Susie Dent et al. at the Oxford English Corpus

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Abwrackprämie | Germany’s “cash for clunkers” program – literally “wrecking premium.”

The Society for German Language

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Minarettverbot | Switzerland’s controversial minaret ban.

Journalists in German-speaking Switzerland and Liechtenstein

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Pan | “Yearning” or “hope” – a desire to move past the devastation of Typhoon Morakot, and a struggling economy.

Taiwanese citizens

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Seiken Kotai | Regime change – the result of the Democratic Party of Japan’s victory in the August general election.

Japanese publisher Jiyu Kokuminsha

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Shin | “New” – chosen to reflect a “year of new ideas.”

The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation

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Twitteren | To Twitter, or tweet.

The Dutch language association Onze Taal

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Ontvrienden | The Dutch for “unfriend.”
Hypotheekleed | The Dutch for “mortgage misery.”
Zeilmeisje | Literally, “sailing girl” – a reference to the would-be round the world solo sailor Laura Dekkers.
Mexicaanse Griep | Swine flu.

The Dutch Van Dale dictionary group and De Pers newspaper

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Tweet | To send a message via Twitter.


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Vampire Squid | Matt Taibbi’s memorable description of Goldman Sachs, in Rolling Stone.
Hacktivism | Hacker activism.
Slacktivism | Slacker activism.
Sexting | Explicit text messaging.
Unfriend | To end a friendship on a social networking site.
Zombie Bank | A financial institution kept alive only via government funding.
Staycation | A stay-at-home holiday.

Forbes India

Words of the 2000s
Global Warming | The climate crisis.
9/11 | The terrorist attacks.
Obama-| The name of the president when used as a root word or stem, such as in “Obamamania.”
Bailout| A rescue, of banks, etc., during the financial crisis.
Evacuee/refugee | As applied to Hurricane Katrina survivors.

The top five words selected by The Global Language Monitor

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Bling | Ostentatious displays of fortune and flash.
Chav | A derogatory social label usually applied to the white underclass.
Slumdog | The children of Mumbai’s slums; after the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.”
WAG | Wives and Girlfriends (of star British soccer players).

Some terms selected by the BBC

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Cougar | Older women on the prowl for younger men.
Glamping | Glamorous camping.
Helicopter Mom | A mother constantly hovering over her children.
Meh | An expression of apathy.

Some of the terms selected by Adam Jacot de Boinod for The Guardian

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9/11 | The attacks of September 11.
iPod | Apple’s ubiquitous MP3 player.
Friend | In the social networking sense.
Blog | A weblog.
Carbon | Presumably, because of carbon trading, footprints, usage, &c.

The National Post, Canada