Nominate the 2023 Words of the Year

Nominate the 2023 Words of the Year

September 22nd, 2023 § Comments Off on Nominate the 2023 Words of the Year § permalink

Nominate your 2023 words of the year here.

Since 1990, the American Dialect Society has selected words of the year to highlight language change and to bring a few aspects of the study of linguistics to the public’s attention. The lighthearted vote is held each year at the time of the society’s annual conference. This vote for 2023 Word of the Year will be held at the Times Square Sheraton Hotel in New York City in conjunction with the 2024 annual meetings of the American Dialect Society and the Linguistic Society of America.

In advance of this (in)auspicious proceeding, we are once again fielding nominations from across the lexically inclined world and beyond. Below, please give your nomination for an overall word of the year. Although this is certainly not required, we’ve also left space for you to tell us a little about this word or provide rationale for your choice (this information helps us organize nominees into ballot categories).

We know it is hard to choose one word overall, so you may submit up to three top choices or upload a list. And don’t worry, you can fill out this survey as many times as you’d like throughout the year as new words form!

Some guidelines for making nominations:

  • We are most interested in WOTY nominations which reflect your personal experience of 2023.
  • For the sake of the WOTY vote, “word” is broadly defined to include multiword phrases, compounds, idiomatic expressions, and even emoji that behave like single lexical items.
  • Nominated words do not have to be absolutely brand new but they should have reached some kind of peak in 2023. Ideal WOTY nominations are words which demonstrate widespread usage by a large number of people, in a variety of contexts and situations, and/or which reflect important events, people, places, ideas, or preoccupations of language users in 2023.
  • Some illustrative examples of past winners include she as Word of the Millennium 2000; YouTube (as a verb) as Most Likely to Succeed 2006; the combining and nominalized forms of Occupy- as WOTY 2011; yeet as Informal WOTY 2018; and Before Times as Most Useful WOTY 2020.

For a list of all past Word of the Year nominees and winners in various categories, click here.

Nominate your 2023 words of the year here.

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.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Words of the Year category at American Dialect Society.