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2022 Word of the Year is “-ussy”

January 6th, 2023 § Comments Off on 2022 Word of the Year is “-ussy” § permalink

Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center–Jan. 6—The American Dialect Society, in its 33rd annual words-of-the-year vote, selected the suffix “-ussy” as the Word of the Year for 2022. More than two hundred attendees took part in the deliberations and voting, joining both in person and virtually, in a hybrid event hosted in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America’s annual meeting.

Presiding at the Jan. 6 voting session was Ben Zimmer, chair of the ADS New Words Committee and language columnist for the Wall Street Journal. 

“The selection of the suffix -ussy highlights how creativity in new word formation has been embraced online in venues like TikTok,” Zimmer said. “The playful suffix builds off the word pussy to generate new slang terms. The process has been so productive lately on social media sites and elsewhere that it has been dubbed

For more on the -ussy phenomenon, see the Vulture article by Bethy Squires, “We Asked Linguists Why People Are Adding -Ussy to Every Word”: “Riffing off ‘bussy’ (a portmanteau of ‘boy’ and ‘pussy’), now everything is a cat or a cavity. A calzone is a pizzussy. A wine bottle has a winussy.” See also Michael Dow’s scholarly paper, “A corpus study of phonological factors in novel English blends.”

Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just words but also phrases, compounds, and affixes. The items do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year. This is not the first time an affix has been named Word of the Year: in 1998, the prefix e- (as in email) was selected.

The vote is the longest-running such vote anywhere, the only one not tied to commercial interests, and the word-of-the-year event up to which all others lead. It is fully informed by the members’ expertise in the study of words, but it is far from a solemn occasion.

Members in the 133-year-old organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, students, and independent scholars. In conducting the vote, they act in fun and do not pretend to be officially inducting words into the English language. Instead, they are highlighting that language change is normal, ongoing, and entertaining.

Read the full press release, including all winners, candidates, and vote tallies for all candidates.

All previous years’ winners are listed here.

Nominations for Words of the Year 2022

January 6th, 2023 § Comments Off on Nominations for Words of the Year 2022 § permalink

Nominations for Words of the Year 2022 follow below.
The final selection will be held at 5:30 pm MST on Friday, Jan. 6 (in the Centennial Ballroom of the Denver Hyatt Regency).

American Dialect Society Words of the Year (2022)

NOMINATIONS to be voted on by the American Dialect Society, Jan. 6, 2023, Denver, CO.


  • 🫠 [melting face]: expressing embarrassment or dread
  • 🫡 [saluting face]: sign of respect or solidarity
  • 🫥 [dotted line face]: feeling of invisibility
  • 💀 [skull]: expressing figurative death (from laughter, frustration, etc.)
  • 🚩 [red flag]: signaling danger or problems
  • ⬜🟨🟩 [colored boxes]: for Wordle results


  • camping: access to abortion, as used in informal networks circumventing state anti-abortion laws 
  • diverse-owned: of a business, owned by members of historically underrepresented groups
  • leg booty: algospeak substitution for LGBT 
  • pronouns: trans/nonbinary gender identities, as used in transphobic rhetoric to mock pronoun choice
  • résumé embellishment: lying about one’s accomplishments 
  • special military operation: Russian designation for invasion of Ukraine


  • blorbo (from my shows): beloved fictional character from television or other media 
  • -dle: suffix for Wordle-like games (Heardle,  Absurdle, Foodle, Worldle, Redactle, etc.)
  • moid/foid: derogatory terms for men and women in incel culture
  • short king: positive or affectionate term for a man of modest stature  
  • -ussy: suffix from “pussy” (as in “bussy” = “boy pussy,” now humorously attached to many words) 


  • if I text you X, it means Y: explaining how to interpret an emoji or series of emojis
  • #IStandWithX: expression of solidarity
  • it’s the X for me: singling out a notable or funny aspect of something, or finding fault with someone
  • not X: ironic framing device expressing an attitude of mock horror or incredulity
  • she’s/he’s a 10, but X: pointing out a negative or quirky quality of someone
  • X hits different: describing an experience that is affecting in a meaningful way


  • dickriding: currying favor or sucking up to someone
  • (the) ick: feeling of disgust about one’s date
  • it’s giving (X): description of something exuding a particular vibe or energy (from drag culture)
  • menty b: mental breakdown
  • rizz: effortless attractiveness or style (short for “charisma”)


  • BFFR: initialism for “be fucking for real”
  • chief twit: self-designation of Elon Musk after acquiring Twitter
  • chronically online: spending so much time online that it warps one’s sense of reality
  • touch grass: go outside (antidote to spending too much time online)
  • -verse: online world, as in Metaverse (Facebook’s VR) or Fediverse (federated servers on Mastodon) 


  • Dark Brandon: sinister, powerful alter ego of Joe Biden (play on “Let’s Go Brandon”)
  • Dobbs: Supreme Court decision reversing abortion rights (as in “post-Dobbs”) 
  • pink trickle/splash: result of Republican “red wave” in midterms not materializing 
  • Slava Ukraini: “Glory to Ukraine!” (said in solidarity with Ukrainian resistance)
  • Woman, Life, Freedom: rallying cry for women’s rights in Iran and elsewhere 


  • climate criminal: celebrity who flies excessively via private jet
  • longtermism: ethical position that prioritizes improving the long-term future
  • nepo baby: celebrity who is the child of a celebrity
  • quiet quitting: doing no more than the minimum required for a job


  • quiet quitting: doing no more than the minimum required for a job
  • rizz: effortless attractiveness or style (short for “charisma”)
  • Slava Ukraini: “Glory to Ukraine!” (said in solidarity with Ukrainian resistance)
  • -ussy: suffix from “pussy” (as in “bussy” = “boy pussy,” now humorously attached to many words)