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Category Archives: word of the year

The New Words of the Year

I’m pleased to (finally) announce the Word Spy “Word of the Year” and other neological awards for 2015.
Word of the Year
feardom nThe state of living in fear or being subject to laws and policies based on fear. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

manspreading n. The act of a man sitting with his knees spread widely apart, particularly when this crowds people next to him or prevents someone from taking an adjacent seat. (entry)
gig economy n. The economic sector consisting of freelancers who take on a series of small jobs, particularly when those jobs are contracted online using a website or app. (entry)
Neologism of the Year§
JeSuisCharlie hashtag An expression of support for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom from terror, particularly as a reaction to the January 7, 2015 terrorist attack on the French publisher Charlie Hebdo. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

dudefussing ppMaking numerous small, needless adjustments as a pretense of effort, particularly by a man. (entry)
legacyquel nA movie that continues a long-running franchise, but with a younger actor taking over the lead role. (entry)

§ This applies only to words that were coined in 2015.

Cruft* of the Year

scanlation n. The pirating of a foreign language comic book or similar graphic work by scanning the images and then translating the text. (scan + translation) (entry)

Dishonorable mentions:

substition n. A fact that many people do not believe. (entry)
coworkation n. A working vacation spent in or near a facility that offers a shared office environment for independent workers. (entry)
* “Poorly built, possibly over-complex; generally unpleasant” —The Jargon File.
Most Fun New Word
goat cheese curtain n. An imaginary boundary that separates urban sophisticates from those with simple, traditional, or uncultured tastes. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

sockmageddon n. A long or intense struggle with washing, folding, or pairing socks. (entry)
argumentum ad tl;dr n. The fallacy of supporting a proposition by inundating one’s opponents with specious arguments that are too numerous and too lengthy to read, much less refute point-by-point. (entry)
sea-lion v. To intrude upon an online conversation in an attempt to engage opponents in debate, particularly by using a tone of feigned civility. (entry)
Snark of the Year
hipster paradox n. The tendency for people who assert their individuality using deliberately anti-mainstream dress and grooming to end up all looking very similar, thus becoming the new mainstream. (entry.)

Honorable mentions:

condesplaining pp. Explaining in a condescending way, particularly from a point of view of power or privilege. (entry)
dadbod n. A male physique characterized by a slight flabbiness, undefined musculature, and a noticeable beer belly; a man who has such a physique. (entry)
Most Likely to Succeed
manspreading n. The act of a man sitting with his knees spread widely apart, particularly when this crowds people next to him or prevents someone from taking an adjacent seat. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

swatting n. A hoax that involves phoning police and providing false information that causes the dispatch of a SWAT team to the hoax victim’s home. (entry)
weedery n. A business that sells medical marijuana. (entry)
Least Likely to Succeed
FOGOn. The fear of going out, particularly if one is tired from previous socializing; the desire to not attend a popular event that is over-hyped or over-commercialized. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

Kispang number n. The maximum distance a person could run at the average pace used by Wilson Kipsang while setting the marathon world record. (entry)
bridechilla n. A bride-to-be who, while planning her wedding, remains calm, relaxed, and easy-going. (entry)
The Facepalm d’Or
selfeet n. A photo of one’s shoes or one’s bare feet. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

mirdle n. An undergarment designed to give a man a slimmer appearance, particularly at the waist. (entry)
uni-moon n. A vacation taken separately by each person in a newly married couple in lieu of a honeymoon. (entry)
Most Useful
gig economy n. The economic sector consisting of freelancers who take on a series of small jobs, particularly when those jobs are contracted online using a website or app. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

eavesread vTo surreptitiously read the text that another person is reading or writing. (entry)
winterregnum nA pause or interruption in a continuous activity during winter or caused by winter weather. (entry)
Most Unnecessary
solitudinousness n. A state or condition characterized by solitude. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

demisexual n. A person who only feels sexual attraction in the context of an emotional or romantic relationship. (entry)
virch n. Colloquial shortening of the phrase “virtual reality.” (entry)
The Weep for Humanity Award
walking ATM n. An illegal immigrant or migrant worker who is frequently robbed because they have no bank account and so must carry all their cash. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

stingray n. A device that spoofs a cellular network tower to identify and track mobile phones. (entry)
fracklog n. Gas or oil that is ready to be fracked, but remains in the ground pending higher petroleum prices. (entry)
The Apocalypse Is Nigh Award
Uberization n. The conversion of existing jobs and services into discrete tasks that can be requested on-demand; the emulation of the Uber taxi service, or the adoption of its business model. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

droneport n. An airport or hub designed for or dedicated to drones. (entry)
food swamp n. An area that has an abundance of fast food restaurants and other low-nutrition food options. (entry)
The WTF? Award
death cafe n. A social gathering where people discuss death while having a meal or a drink. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

monogamish adj. In a monogamous relationship, but with a mutual agreement that allows occasional infidelities. (entry)
cuffing season n. Late fall and early winter when single people seek exclusive relationships to help them get through the coming cold months. (entry)
Tongue Twister of the Year
biononymity (by.oh.non.IM.uh.tee ) n. The quality or state of having one’s biological data anonymous or private. (entry)

Honorable mentions:

amatonormativity (uh.MAT.oh.nor.muh.TIV.uh.tee) n. The legal, cultural, and moral privileging and promotion of the romantic couple as the highest form of human relationship. (entry)
solitudinousness (sawl.uh.TOO.din.uss.nuss) n. A state or condition characterized by solitude. (entry)

The New Words of the Year

As usual, I’ve waited until everyone is thoroughly sick of “Word of the Year” announcements to announce the Word Spy “Word of the Year” and other neological awards.
Word of the Year
JOMO n. The pleasure derived from no longer worrying about missing out on what other people are doing or saying. (See the entry.)If new words reflect the culture that coins them, then 2014 should have seen lots of neologisms related to the events, people, and obsessions that dominated our lives. Sure enough, as you’ll see in the awards that follow, new terms related to Ebola, Ferguson, selfies, and social networking are thick on the ground.Sometimes, if you look at new words a certain way, you can also detect undercurrents that reflect what we wish was happening in the culture. In 2014, by far the most dominant of these sub-trends was the desire to disconnect. The phrase boiling the frog might not have any scientific merit, but it still works as a metaphor and in 2014 many people began to feel like they were frogs slowly being boiled in a pot of information. Stress caused by FOMO (the fear of missing out) and the anxiety of nomophobia (being without one’s mobile phone) were turning us into nervous wrecks.

What if, like real frogs in real boiling water, we could just jump out? What if we could replace FOMO with JOMO, the joy of missing out? It’s a question that resonates: JOMO has been one of the most popular Word Spy entries since I posted it last October. It’s all over Twitter. It has appeared in The New York Times, The Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald, and dozens of other publications. It is Word Spy’s well-deserved Word of ther Year.

Honorable mentions:

disconnectionist n. A person who advocates spending time away from online activities, particularly for mental or spiritual rejuvenation. (entry)
infobesity n. The excessive consumption of information. (entry)
Neologism of the Year§
narcisstick n. A pejorative name for a selfie stick. (See the entry.)If 2013 was the year of narcissism, 2014 was the year of the normalisation of narcissism (to borrow the evocative phrase of writer Marlene Mallott). Remember when it felt slightly embarrassing to take a photo of yourself? Now people take selfies after plane crashes and during hostage-takings. The selfie stick (a monopod to which a smartphone is attached for taking selfies from a distance) literally takes narcissism to new heights, so the clever insult narcisstick (which first appeared in English in January) is the Neologism of the Year.Honorable mentions:

jerktech n. Technology that encourages or monetizes antisocial behavior, particularly the selling of goods or services that users don’t own. (entry)

Ebolaphobia n. A strong and irrational fear of the Ebola virus. (entry)

§ This applies only to words that were coined in 2014.

Cruft* of the Year

platisher n. A media company that publishes professional writers and also offers a platform that enables non-professionals to post articles, essays, and other writing. (platform + publisher)

Platisher has been called a “horrible portmanteau” and a “terrible reflection of our time.” It makes the tongue ache to say it, it makes people think of a platypus (not an entirely unpleasant thought, mind you), and it invokes the word “platform,” a head-scratcher of a term that remains eternally shrouded in geek mystery.

Dishonorable mentions:

chewtrition n. The health benefits of thorough mastication (chewing + nutrition).

complisult n. A backhanded compliment (compliment + insult). (entry)

* “Poorly built, possibly over-complex; generally unpleasant” —The Jargon File.

Busiest New Word
Tie: Ebolaselfie.Some new words exist in a kind of splendid lexical isolation (see, for example, eruptionist and schlumpadinka), while others seem to exist only to beget more words. 2014 saw two such productive members of neological society.The Ebola virus created panic and paranoia and the word Ebola created many new terms, including Ebolaphobia, EbolanoiaEbolamania, and Ebolageddon.

Selfies were inescapable in 2014, so no surprise that the descendants of the word selfie were equally hard to avoid. These included dronie, selfie stickshelfie, ugly selfie, usie, and so many more.

Honorable mentions:

-splaining suffix Explaining in the manner of; e.g., mansplainingnerdsplainingparentsplaining, to name a few.

binge adv. Excessively, indulgently; e.g., binge-listen, binge-read, binge-watch.

Most Fun New Word
MAMIL n. A middle-aged man who is a devotee of cycling or some other sport that requires or encourages the wearing of Lycra. (From the phrase middle-aged man in lycra; see the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

Frito feet n. A condition in which a dog’s paws smell like corn chips. (entry)
nana technology n. Technology, particularly microchip-based devices, designed to improve the quality of life of the elderly. (entry)
thumbstopper n. An eye-catching or compelling item that makes a person stop scrolling through a list of posts, particularly when using the thumb to scroll a touchscreen device. (entry)
Snark of the Year
glasshole n. A person who uses a Google Glass wearable computer in an obnoxious, pretentious, or creepy manner. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

egotarian adj. Relating to a dish or cuisine created only to show off the chef’s culinary skills or creativity. (entry)
fruitloopery n. The improper or ignorant use of scientific or technical language to make a false or impossible claim seem more believable. (entry)
Most Likely to Succeed
procaffinating pp. Delaying or postponing something until one has had one or more cups of coffee; drinking coffee slowly as a delaying tactic. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

clicktivism n. Activism that consists solely of performing quick and simple online tasks. (entry)
data journalism n. Journalism that uses statistics, programming, and other digital data and tools to produce or shape news stories. (entry)
Least Likely to Succeed
NoMon. A woman who is not a mother, particularly by circumstance rather than by choice. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

brocialist n. A man who has progressive views, but who is also insensitive to women and dismissive of feminist issues. (entry)
qt3.14 n. A cute, attractive person; a cutie-pie. (entry)
The Facepalm d’Or
conscious uncoupling n. A ritual designed to lead a couple to an amicable divorce or breakup. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

dronie n. A video self-portrait taken by a self-controlled drone. (entry)
toebesity n. Excessive fat on one or more toes. (entry)
Most Useful
time confetti n. Brief scraps of leisure time scattered throughout a person‘s day. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

de-elephant v. To discuss an existing but unacknowledged topic. (entry)
steel man n. The strongest version of an opponent’s argument, particularly when this version improves upon the opponent’s original argument. (entry)
Most Unnecessary
suggestful adj. Having lots of suggestions. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

fappy n. Overweight and happy with one’s life. (entry)
incel n. A person who is involuntarily celibate; the state or condition of being involuntarily celibate. (entry)
The Weep for Humanity Award
homeless deterrent n. A physical obstacle or design that deters homeless people from sleeping in a particular area. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

jerktech n. Technology that encourages or monetizes antisocial behavior, particularly the selling of goods or services that users don’t own. (entry)
poor door n. A separate entrance for the lower-income residents of a mixed-income building. (entry)
The Apocalypse Is Nigh Award
SWATification n. The increase in the use and militarization of police SWAT teams. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

ag-gag adj. Relating to laws that criminalize the taking of undercover photos and videos in certain businesses. (entry)
Generation Rent n. People who cannot afford to buy a house, particularly in areas where housing prices have risen dramatically. (entry)
The WTF? Award
facekini n. A balaclava-like mask that, except for holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth, covers the entire head and neck to keep off the sun. (See the entry.)

Honorable mentions:

Cinderella n. A cosmetic surgery procedure to help the feet fit into a particular shoe or shoe style. (entry)
hate-link v. To post a link to an article or website that one vigorously dislikes. (entry)
Most Likely to Cause Heebie-Jeebies
ASMRtist n. A person who makes videos that invoke an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), which creates a pleasurable, tingling sensation in the heads of susceptible viewers. (See the entry.)