Words of the Year 2013


We take a look at the fun, funky and completely unexpected words of the year with Jason Riggle, a University of Chicago linguist who cast his vote on a wide spectrum of words that range from the ridiculous to the sublime.

The American Dialect Society voted “because” as the Word of the Year for 2013. The selection recognized that the word is now being used in new ways to introduce a noun, adjective, or other part of speech. See all the results below.

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AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY VOTE TALLIES

The number after each nomination is the number of votes it received. Winners are indicated by an asterisk, and numbers separated by slash marks indicate a run-off. Voting totals for each category might not be identical because the number of voters might have changed for each category.

WORD OF THE YEAR

* because: introducing a noun, adjective, or other part of speech (e.g., “because reasons,” “because awesome”). 127
slash: used as a coordinating conjunction to mean “and/or” (e.g., “come and visit slash stay”) or “so” (“I love that place, slash can we go there?”). 21
twerk: A mode of dance that involves vigorous booty-shaking and booty-thrusting, usually with the feet planted. 7
Obamacare: term for the Affordable Care Act that has moved from pejorative to matter-of-fact shorthand. 39
selfie: a photo taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone and shared on social media. 20

MOST USEFUL

* because: introducing a noun, adjective, or other part of speech (e.g., “because reasons,” “because awesome”). 64/117
slash: used as a coordinating conjunction to mean “and/or” (e.g., “come and visit slash stay”) or “so” (“I love that place, slash can we go there?”). 51/79
selfie: a photo taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone and shared on social media. 37
strug(gle) bus: metaphor for a difficult situation, as in “I’m riding the struggle bus.” Also a verb. 32
ACC: “aggressive carbon-copy,” used to undermine the position of the recipient of an email, such as cc’ing the boss or legal counsel.

MOST CREATIVE

* catfish: to misrepresent oneself online, especially as part of a romantic deception. 62/94
doge: an Internet meme with intentionally ungrammatical exclamations over an image of a dog (typically the Shiba Inu breed). 70/88
bitcoin: an anonymous, decentralized, digital, encrypted currency and payment system. 4
robo sapiens: a class of robots with human-like intelligence. 51

MOST UNNECESSARY

* sharknado: a tornado full of sharks, as featured in the Syfy Channel movie of that name. 162
cronut: a croissant-doughnut hybrid. 18
stack-ranking: a method of ranking employees on a primitive curve (used and abandoned by Microsoft). 11

MOST OUTRAGEOUS

* underbutt: the underside of buttocks, made visible by certain shorts or underwear. 54/110
revenge porn: vindictive posting of sexually explicit pictures of someone without consent. 46/75
fatberg: large deposit of fat, grease, and solid sewage found in London sewers. 26
s(c)hmeat: (blend of sheet + meat): meat product grown in a lab. 17
thigh gap: a space between the thighs, taken by some as a sign of attractiveness (also box gap). 43

MOST EUPHEMISTIC

* least untruthful: involving the smallest necessary lie (used by intelligence director James Clapper). 121
demised: laid off from employment (used by the bank HSBC). 16
slimdown: reinterpretation of “shutdown” used on Fox News site. 72

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED

* binge-watch: to consume vast quantities of a single show or series of visual entertainment in one sitting. 117
drone: (trans. verb) to target with a drone, typically in a lethal drone strike. 19
glasshole: a person made oblivious by wearing Google Glass, a head-mounted computer. 21
Obamacare: term for the Affordable Care Act that has moved from pejorative to matter-of-fact shorthand. 51

LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED

* Thanksgivukkah: confluence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah that will not be repeated for another 70,000 years. 159
birthmas: a simultaneous celebration of a birthday and Christmas. 19
Harlem Shake: a video meme featuring comic, convulsive dancing accompanied by excerpt of the song “Harlem Shake” by the DJ Baauer. 19

MOST PRODUCTIVE (new category)

* -shaming: (from slut-shaming) type of public humiliation (fat-shamingpet-shaming). 98/132
-splaining: (from mansplaining) type of condescending explanation (whitesplaining, journosplaining). 49/68
-coin: (from bitcoin) type of cryptocurrency (peercoin, namecoin, dogecoin). 0
-(el)fie: (from selfie) type of self-portrait (drelfie ‘drunk selfie,’ twofie ‘selfie with two people’). 39
-hack: (from lifehack) type of shortcut to increase productivity. 13
-spo: (from thinspo) type of photo or video montage intended to inspire viewers to lose weight or stay fit (fitsposportspo). 1


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