2003 Words of the Year

Here are the final vote tallies for the 2003 Words of the Year from the American Dialect Society at its annual conference, held this year in Boston. These are the words which most colored the nation’s lexicon, or otherwise dominated the national discourse.

Note that voting tallies for each category will vary in their totals, for not all attendees voted in all categories. Votes were held in a series of run-offs until a clear winner was recognized. Votes are listed according to voting rounds, first-second-third.

Word (or Phrase) of the Year This is the word or phrase which most signifies 2003:

Winner metrosexual: noun, a fashion-conscious heterosexual male, or, as coiner Mark Simpson put it, a man who “has clearly taken himself as his own love object.” 20-36-35

pre-emptive self-defense: noun, an attack before a possible attack.18-10

embed: verb, to place a journalist with troops or a political campaign. Noun, a journalist who is so placed. 7

zhuzh, tjuzs: verb, to plump up, fluff up or primp. 4

governator, gropenator, gropenführer: noun, the current Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. 3

weapons of mass deception: plural noun, the hunt for weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for war. 10

weapons of: formative, including weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass distraction. 3

SARS: acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. This was a surprise entry after the first elimination round, unorthodoxly nominated by one of our members from China. (no first round)-24-31

Most Useful: word or phrase which most fills a need for a new word

Winner flexitarian: noun, a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat. 31-41

SARS: 12-9

-shoring: formative, indicating the location of jobs or businesses, including offshoring, moving businesses or jobs out of the country; rightshoring, returning them to the US; and nearshoring, moving them to Canada. 3

embed: 8

ass-hat: noun, a thoughtless or stupid person. 3

text: verb, to send a text message. 11-24

Most Creative

Winner freegan: noun, person who eats only what they can get for free. 18-23-45

tanorexia: noun, the condition of being addicted to tanning. 0

governator, gropenator, gropenführer: 20-27-32

manscaping: noun, male body-shaving. 22-22

tofurkey: noun, a faux turkey crafted from tofu. Also a trade name. 1

metrosexual: 12

Most Unnecessary: word for phrase for which we already have a perfectly good word, or which fills a need no one has.

Winner freedom: noun, replacing “French” in phrases or compound nouns such as French fries, French kiss, and French tickler. 54

Bennifer: noun, the couple of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. 18

Most Outrageous: word or phrase most likely to cause complaint.

Winner cliterati: collective noun, feminist or woman-oriented writers or opinion-leaders. 28-38

torture lite: noun phrase, torture short of bodily harm. 14

useful idiot: noun phrase, a human shield for the enemy. 6

DILF: abbreviation for Dad I’d Like to F…, patterned after MILF. 21-33

Most Euphemistic: word or phrase which least says what it means to.

Winner pre-emptive self-defense: noun phrase, an attack made before a possible attack. 45

population reduction: noun phrase, a combat assignment. 4

transfer tube: compound noun, a body bag. 11

extraordinary rendition: noun phrase, the deportation to a country that will receive a person unkindly, such as with torture. 5

Most Likely to Succeed: word or phrase most likely to be here next year.

Winner SARS: 40

zhuzh, tjuzs: 8

metrosexual: 14

-lite: combining form, as in patriotism lite, torture lite, Bush lite, a moderate Democrat. 9

Least Likely to Succeed: word or phrase least likely to be here next year.

Winner tomacco: noun, a hybrid of tomato and tobacco, which happens to be poisonous. 54

Lib Radio: noun phrase, liberal talk radio. 7

zeta-jones: verb, to scarf or eat ravenously. 10

recockulous ridiculous 0

Best Revival: word or phrase brought back from the past.

Winner spider hole: compound noun, an expertly camouflaged hole used by soldiers from which they can strike. This term goes at least back to 1941. 52

downer sick cow 2

frog-marching: noun, walking awkwardly in restraints while under arrest. 10

Collyer: noun, in New York City, a person trapped under their own collected debris in their apartment. 4