Now accepting nominations for the 2010 word of the year

The American Dialect Society is now accepting nominations for the “word of the year” of 2010.

What is the word or phrase which best characterizes the year? What expression most reflects the ideas, events, and themes which have occupied the English-speaking world, especially North America?

Nominations can be sent by email to or to the Twitter user name @americandialect, or they can be made in Twitter by using the hashtag #woty10.

They will be considered for the American Dialect Society’s 21st annual word-of-the-year vote, the longest-running vote of its kind in the world and the word-of-the-year event up to which all word-of-the-year votes lead. It will be held in Pittsburgh on Friday, January 7, 2011.

The best “word of the year” candidates will be:

—new or newly popular in 2010
—widely or prominently used in 2010
—indicative or reflective of the popular discourse

Multi-word compounds or phrases that act as stand-alone lexical items are also welcomed.

Sub-categories for “word of the year” include most useful, most creative, most unnecessary, most outrageous, most euphemistic, most likely to succeed, and least likely to succeed.

Early nominations have been received from

  • Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and editor of the online magazine. He is also the “On Language” columnist for the New York Times Magazine and a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary. Read Ben’s words.
  • Grant Barrett, vice president of communications and technology of the American Dialect Society, co-host of the nationwide public radio program about language, A Way with Words, and former head of the American Dialect Society new words committee. Read Grant’s words.
  • Wayne Glowka, Dean of Arts and Humanities at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, and former head of the American Dialect Society new words committee. Read Wayne’s words.
  • Nancy Friedman, a name developer, corporate copywriter, and blogger at Fritinancy. Read Nancy’s words.
  • Joe Clark, a Canadian journalist and author, gives his Canadian candidates — and his winner. Read Joe’s words.
  • David Barnhart of Lexik House. Read David’s words.

    The vote is informed by the members’ expertise in the study of words, but it is far from a solemn occasion.

    Members in the 121-year-old academic organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university 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.

    Past winners can be found on the society’s web site.

    More information about the annual meeting.