For the 25th year, the American Dialect Society has chosen a word of the year by a live and occasionally rowdy vote in a roomful of linguists at their annual conference. Here are some of the words that made an impact this year.
1. #BLACKLIVESMATTER (WORD OF THE YEAR)
The overall winner this year was #blacklivesmatter, the hashtag that emerged after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY. According to Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society and language columnist at the Wall Street Journal, “While #blacklivesmatter may not fit the traditional definition of a word, it demonstrates how powerfully a hashtag can convey a succinct social message.” It is not just a three-word phrase, but a phrase used in a new way as a single entity. Turning a phrase into a hashtag can often give it a specific, word-like force, and that’s why this year a whole new word-of-the-year category was introduced, “Most Notable Hashtag”. #Blacklivesmatter won that category and then went on to win for word of the year.
2. EVEN (MOST USEFUL)
An old word with a new interesting use for the meaning “to deal with or reconcile difficult situations or emotions.” It comes from the phrase “I can’t even,” and has branched into related phrases like “I have lost the ability to even” and “what even.”
Even won over another popular contender, budtender, meaning “person who specializes in serving marijuana to consumers, especially in legal dispensaries."
4. EIT (MOST EUPHEMISTIC)
EIT is short for “Enhanced Interrogation Technique,” already itself a euphemism, making it so euphemistic it even beat out conscious uncoupling, a term for “a divorce or romantic separation by polite mutual agreement.”
5. COLUMBUSING (MOST CREATIVE)
Columbusing refers to “cultural appropriation, especially the act of a white person claiming to discover things already known to minority cultures.”
In the “most creative” category, narcissistick “a pejorative term for a selfie stick,” proved to be so unpopular, it was moved to the “most unnecessary” category.
7. BAELESS (MOST UNNECESSARY)
Narcissistick still lost, this time to baeless, “without a romantic partner.”
8. PLATISHER (LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED)
Platisher was a word coined for an “online media publisher that also serves as a platform for creating content.” All agreed it was way too awkward (and evocative of a platypus) to stick around much longer.