ADS Word of the Year for 2019

The American Dialect Society has held its annual conference over the past few days in New Orleans, and it has voted on its 2019 Word of the Year and its choice for Word of the Decade for the past ten years. The ADS is a professional group of linguists, lexicographers, and other language scholars, and they have been choosing a Word of the Year since 1990. They use a broad definition of word that encompasses any lexical item and includes phrases, abbreviations, emojis, and the like. While the group is scholarly, the WOTY selection is mostly for fun. The choice reflects the views of scholars but is not a scholarly endeavor. I have, upon occasion in the past, participated in the ADS WOTY selection, but I did not do so this year. See the winners and definitions of each nominee here.

So, the ADS’s choice for 2019 Word of the Year is:

(my) pronouns. The choice probably requires some explanation. It is increasingly common at professional gatherings for people, as they introduce themselves or write out their name tags, to include the pronouns they use to identify themselves, such as he/him/his, she/her/hers, or they/them/theirs. The reason for this is to be inclusive of people who do not conform to the traditional gender binary, and all are encouraged to include their pronouns so that those who are queer or non-binary are not singled out. Other nominees were ok boomer, cancel, and Karen.

The choice for Word of the Decade follows the same theme; it is the use of they as a gender-neutral, singular pronoun. The runner-up was meme. Other nominees were the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, climate, emoji, #MeToo, opioid crisis, selfie, and woke.

The Political Word of the Year was quid pro quo, with the hashtag #IMPOTUS, a reference to Donald Trump as the IMpeached President Of The United States, as runner-up. The other two nominees in the category were squad and Trumpschmerz, referring to fatigue and suffering over the continual political debates.

The choice for Most Useful/Most Likely to Succeed was a surprise to me. It was ok boomer in an overwhelming vote. It’s surprising because the phrase had run its course by early December and is now only used by those who are out of touch with what’s trendy. The other nominees were plant-based, to my mind clearly the best choice for this category, stan, and zoomer.

Now we get into a few categories where I don’t recognize any of the words that were nominated. (They nominees make me feel old. Maybe I need to spend more time on TikTok.) The Slang/Informal WOTY was and I oop—. The other nominees were hot girl summer and zaddy. The Most Creative was nobody:, with the other nominees being (X)-curious, gerrymeandering, and sksksk.

The Euphemism of the Year was people of means, with a runner-up in the U.S. Department of Energy’s attempt to coin freedom gas/molecules of freedom as a name for natural gas. Other nominees were Heckboy and self-partnered.

The Digital WOTY was the word-emoji combination of im for impeach, with the runner-up being VSCO girl. The other nominee in this category was the fax emoji used for facts.

[Discuss this post]

Powered by ExpressionEngine
Copyright 1997-2020, by David Wilton