American Dialect Society

Words of the Year
1990: bushlips
1991: mother of all
1992: not!
1993: information superhighway
1994: cyber, morph
1995: web, newt
1996: Mom
1997: millennium bug
1998: e-
1999: Y2K
2000: chad
2001: 9-11
2002: weapons of mass destruction
2003: metrosexual

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

2002: Weapons Of Mass Destruction Dominate Words Of The Year

The grim forebodings of the past year were reflected in the American Dialect Society's choice of weapons of mass destruction and its abbreviation WMD as word (or phrase) of the year 2002.

In the 13th annual vote among members and friends of the society, conducted this time in Atlanta Jan. 3 during the society's annual meeting, weapons of mass destruction received 38 votes of the approximately 60 cast. Vote numbers are approximate because voting was by show of hands.

Other candidates for Word of the Year were:

google (verb)—to search the Web using the search engine Google for information on a person or thing: 11 votes.

blog—from weblog, a website of personal events, comments, and links: 6 votes.

Amber alert—public announcement of a missing child: 4 votes.

regime change—forced change in leadership: 3 votes.

Words of the Year are those that reflect the concerns and preoccupations of the year gone by. They need not be new, but they usually are newly prominent.

Before the voting on Word of the Year, words were also chosen in particular categories. These were the categories for 2002:

Most likely to succeed: blog (30 votes). Other candidates: Amber alert (20); Axis of _____, alliance (8); teen angstrel, angst-ridden popular singer (1).

Most useful: google (verb). All 60 votes in this category were for this word. Other candidates, with no votes, were: dataveillance, surveillance using computer data; the prefix war- as in wardriving or warchalking, finding locations for unauthorized wireless Internet access; My big fat ______; like no other, extremely.

Most creative: Iraqnophobia, strong fear of Iraq (38 votes in a runoff). Other candidate in the runoff: walking pinata, a person subject to relentless criticism, most recently Trent Lott (25). Other candidates in the first vote: dialarhoea, inadvertent dialing of a cell phone in a pocket or handbag (8); 201 (k), a 401 (k) retirement account ruined by stock losses (8); apatheist, someone believing that God or gods exist but are not of any use (7).

Most unnecessary: wombanization, feminization, from Alexander Barnes' book The Book Read Backwards: The Deconstruction of Patriarchy and the Wombanization of Being (46 votes). Other candidates: Saddameter, meter on television showing daily likelihood of war with Iraq (13); virtuecrat, person both politically correct and morally righteous (10); black tide, large-scale oil pollution at sea (0).

Most outrageous: Neuticles, fake testicles for neutered pets (40 votes in a runoff). Other candidate in the runoff: grid butt, marks left on the buttocks by fishnet pantyhose (30). Other candidates in the first vote: sausage fest, slang term for a party with more males than females (7); diabulimia, loss of weight by a diabetic skipping insulin doses (3); Botox party, party at which a physician injects guests with Botox (2); comprendo-challenged, unable to understand the U.S. Constitution (0).

Most euphemistic: regime change (38 votes). Other candidates: V card, slang term for virginity (14); newater, sewage water purified and recycled into the fresh water system (7); unorthodox entrepreneur, panhandler, prostitute, or drug dealer in a Vancouver park (4); Enronomics, fraudulent business and accounting practices (1); dirty bomb, conventional bomb laced with radioactive material (0).

In the previous year, the special category Most Inspirational had been added to incorporate Todd Beamer's Let's roll! attacking the hijackers of United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. For 2002, President Bush's embetterment as in the embetterment of mankind was proposed as justifying another Most Inspirational, but it was rejected 45 votes to 12. Another candidate for Most Inspirational was proposed, grid butt, the runner-up in the Most Outrageous category, but the chair, who favored embetterment, arbitrarily ruled it out of order.

The next vote, on words for 2003, will take place Friday, January 9, 2004, at the American Dialect Society's annual meeting in Boston at the Sheraton Hotel. Nominations for words of the year 2003 are welcome anytime. Send them to the chair of the society's New Words Committee, Professor Wayne Glowka of Georgia College and State University via .

2001 Words of the Year

Here are the results of the Words of the Year vote from the American Dialect Society Annual Meeting, January 4, 2002 at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, San Francisco.

1. Most Outrageous
assoline Methane used as a fuel

2. Most Euphemistic
daisy cutter Bomb used by US Air Force

3. Most Likely to Succeed
9-11 Terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001

4. Most Useful—A Tie
facial profiling Videotaping a crowd to identify criminals and terrorists
second-hand speech Overheard cell-phone conversation

5. Most Creative
shuicide bomber Terrorist with bomb in shoes

6. Most Unnecessary
impeachment nostalgia Longing for the superficial news of the Clinton era

7. Least Likely to Succeed
Osamaniac Woman sexually attracted to Osama bin Laden

8. Most Inspirational
Let's roll! Let us take action! (words of Todd Beamer)

9. Word of the Year 9-11 (and its equivalents)

The candidates and voting tallies:
1. Most Outrageous
assoline Methane used as a fuel (23 first vote; 41 second vote)
Osamaniac Woman sexually attracted to Osama bin Laden (10 first vote; 11 second vote)
burka blue Color of the head-to-toe garment worn by some Afghan women (15)
cuddle puddle Pile of Ecstacy users on the floor (3)

2. Most Euphemistic
women of cover Muslim women who wear traditional dress (Bushism) (9)
daisy cutter Bomb used by US Air Force (45)
sneakers-up Belly-up (of a dot-com) (1)

3. Most Likely to Succeed
9-11 Terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (50)
ground zero Site of the former WTC (4)
pop-under Internet ad appearing under main browser window (3)
weaponize Adapt for use as a weapon (anthrax, shoes, etc.) (9)

4. Most Useful
facial profiling Videotaping a crowd to identify criminals and terrorists (12-17-29—first, second, and third votes)
linguistic profiling Using dialect to identify someone's race, region, social class (10-15—first and second votes)
annoyicon Logo in bottom corner of a television screen (3)
weapons-grade Potent (like weapons-grade salsa) (4)
theoterrorism Attacks on civilians for a religious purpose (9-9—first and second votes)
overconnectedness Being connected everywhere all the time (3)
table (v) Staff an informational table (1)
debris surge, debris storm Spread of debris from collapsing building (1)
second-hand speech Overheard cell-phone conversation (10-14-28—first, second, and third votes—tie declared)

5. Most Creative
shuicide bomber Terrorist with bomb in shoes (26)
assoline (1)
so Sept. 10 Petty; self-absorbed; oblivious to impending danger (5)
Netwallah Web site administrator (4)
orthorexia nervosa Obsession with eating the right foods (11)

6. Most Unnecessary
"the terrorists will have already won" (15-15—first and second votes)
impeachment nostalgia Longing for the superficial news of the Clinton era (21-27—first and second votes)
EC Emotionally correct (15-15—first and second votes)
desk rage Fit thrown in the office (2)

7. Least Likely to Succeed
Osamaniac (50)
interruptible (n) Energy customer allowing suspensions of service (0)
dot-orging Changing employment from a dot-com to a dot-org (4)

8. Most Inspirational
Let's roll! Let us take action! (no real vote tallied)

9. Word of the Year
9-11 and equivalents (29)
impeachment nostalgia (0)
burka (10)
Let's roll! (1)
theoterrorism (4)
ground zero (2)
misunderestimate (4)
homeland (5)

2000 Words of the Year

Chad perfused the voting for overall Word of the Year 2000 at the American Dialect Society's meeting in Washington, D.C. January 5. In the annual choice of the word or phrase that was most notable or prominent in the year gone by, chad earned 43 votes, compared to just 6 for muggle, not only the Harry Potter term for a non-wizard but more broadly a mundane, unimaginative person, and just three votes for dot bomb, defined as a failed dot-com.

Before that final vote, Words of the Year were chosen in these eight categories, with approximate votes for each:

Most Outrageous: wall humping (30), rubbing a thigh against a security card scanner to allow access without the inconvenience of removing the card from one's pocket. Other candidates: starter castle (10), a dot-commer's first house, and McMansion (6), a big new home in incredibly bad taste.

Most Euphemistic: courtesy call (37), an uninvited call from a telemarketer. Other candidates: Supreme Court justice (14), reflecting a disenchanted view of the presidential election, and klabokeys (2; see below).

Most Likely to Succeed: muggle (27). Other candidates: m-commerce (14), buying and selling over a cell phone, and WAP (3), Wireless Application Protocol, a specification that enables wireless devices to connect with one another.

Most Useful: civil union (40), legal same-sex marriage. Other candidates: bricks-and-clicks (10), a traditional business with a website, and c.u. (5), to join a couple in civil union.

Most Creative: dot bomb (31). Other candidates: blobject (19), a product like the iMac with curvilinear design; dot snot (12), a young dot-com millionaire; megawatt laundering (5), interstate buying and selling of electricity to avoid state price controls; Sore Loserman (5), respelling of Gore-Lieberman campaign poster, and Nader trader or Nader traitor (5), a supporter of Ralph Nader in a state with a close race between Gore and Bush who would vote for Gore in return for a Gore supporter in another state voting for Nader.

Most Unnecessary: sudden loss of wealth syndrome (31) which pretty well defines itself. Other candidates: scootermania (10), obsession with foot-powered scooters, and Floridate (0), spoil the orderliness of an election.

Least Likely to Succeed: kablokeys (26), a hard-to-pronounce and obscure word used in phrases like It scared the kablokeys out of me. Other candidates: subliminable (10), Saturday Night Live spoof of G.W. Bush pronunciation, and malaphrophesizing 10), predictions phrased in malapropisms.

Most of the candidates for Word of the Year have been around for some time but not particularly well known. Chad is a good example: Teletype operators used the term more than 50 years ago, but only with the Florida recount did the word become generally recognized. There are, however, some brand new words every year. The winner in the Brand-Spanking New category was unconcede (38), to rescind a concession, as Gore did on election night. Another candidate was cell yell (16), loud talking on a cell phone. Subsequent sleuthing by ADS etymologists determined that these words were in fact not brand new either.

ADS has chosen Words of the Year since 1990. Stories and a complete list are on the Society's website,

Words of the Year 2001 will be chosen in San Francisco on January 4, 2002.

1999 Winning Words: Y2K, Web, Jazz, She

The American Dialect Society words of the year, decade, century, and millennium chosen in January 2000 need no introduction. But they could use an explanation.

Word of the Year 1999 was Y2K.

Word of the 1990s Decade was web.

Word of the Twentieth Century was jazz.

Word of the Past Millennium was she.

Yes, she, the feminine pronoun. Before the year 1000, there was no she in English; just heo, which singular females had to share with plurals of all genders because it meant they as well. In the twelfth century, however, she appeared, and she has been with us ever since. She may derive from the Old English feminine demonstrative pronoun seo or sio, or from Viking invasions.

The Oxford English Dictionary explains:

"The phonetic development of various dialects had in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries rendered the pronouns he (masc.) and heo (fem.) almost or wholly indistinguishable in pronunciation. There was therefore, where these dialects were spoken, a strong motive for using the unambiguous feminine demonstrative instead of the feminine personal pronoun. Further, the districts in which she or sho first appears in the place of heo are marked by the abundance of Scandinavian elements in the dialect and place-names; and in Old Norse the demonstrative pronoun (of all genders) is often used as a personal pronoun."

By a runoff vote of 35 to 27, she edged out science as Word of the Millennium.

The words were chosen at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago on January 7, 2000, during the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society. About 70 members and friends of the Society were present to discuss and vote on nominees selected earlier in the day.

Voting began with Words of the Year 1999. These words were chosen in particular categories, with approximate votes for each:

Most Useful: dot-com, a company operating on the Web. Other nominees: Y2K (28), fatigue (0) as in millennium fatigue, Clinton fatigue.

Most Unnecessary: milly (28), dance for the millennium commissioned by the city of Chicago. Others: compassionate conservative (28), political label of Presidential candidate George W. Bush; birdosaur (22), a flying dinosaur; millennium fatigue (4).

Most Likely to Succeed: dot-com (31) company doing business on the World-Wide Web. Others: portal (9) entry site to the Web, e-tail (7) retail business conducted on the Web, baby Bills (2) companies that Bill Gates' Microsoft might be broken up into as a result of the government's antitrust lawsuit.

Most Outrageous: humanitarian intervention, (29) military force used for humanitarian purposes. Others: denim defense (16) victim's wearing of tight jeans, which require victim's cooperation in removing, as defense against a rape charge; compassionate conservative (12); Acela (1), Amtrak trademark for new service.

Most Original: cybersquat, (32) to register a Web address intending to sell it at a profit. Others: HMO+ (21) covered by a bad health maintenance organization, analogous to HIV positive; coffee-zilla (3) very strong coffee; logobeef (3), student slang for something thrown over a high balcony.

Most Euphemistic: compassionate conservative(28). Others: Your call is very important to us (22) answering machine message, humanitarian intervention (13), possum-rider (3) student slang for person indiscriminate with sexual partners, m'kay (2) South Park movie substitute for F-word.

Brand New (not attested in previous years): Pokémania, (33) obsession with Pokémon. Others: mousetrapping (19) blocking exit from a Website, trench coat mafia (0) purported clique of students at Columbine High School, Colorado.

It took only one vote to choose Y2K as Word of the Year. Of the final nominees, Y2K got 55 votes, dot-com (5), cybersquat (2), and Pokémania (0).

For Word of the Decade, web received 45 votes, the prefix e- 10, way meaning yes (4), the prefix Franken meaning genetically modified as in Frankenfood (2), ethnic cleansing (0) and senior moment (0).

For Word of the Century, jazz got 50 votes to about 12 for runner-up DNA. Also in the running were the slang cool (10), media (9), T-shirt (7), teenager (6), acronym (4), teddy bear (3), World War (2) and melting pot (0).

For Word of the Millennium, other candidates were the article the (16), OK (13), freedom (7), book (4), human (3), justice (1), truth (1), language (1), government (1), news (0), nature (0), history (0) and go (0).

1998 Words Of The Year Win With "E-"s

It is just a single letter of the alphabet, but the hyphenated prefix e- loomed so large in American discourse in 1998 that members and friends of the American Dialect Society at their annual meeting voted it Word (or perhaps Lexical Entity) of the Year, as well as Most Useful and Most Likely to Succeed.

For top choice, e- edged out sexual relations, a term whose definition was much discussed and much in dispute last year, by a runoff vote of 31 to 28. In the initial vote for the grand prize, the two entities each garnered 16 votes. There were also 10 for is, whose meaning President Clinton memorably questioned; 4 for Viagra, the patented potent medicine; 3 for prefixed rage, as in road rage, air rage, and Web rage; and 3 for the not-so-new weather phenomenon El Niño.

e- has been around in e-mail for nearly two decades, but it has recently multiplied its lexical connections with business in terms like e- business, e-commerce, and e-tailing (retailing on the Internet). A week after the ADS vote, on Jan. 15, the mantric power of e- was exemplified in a Dilbert cartoon where two venture capitalists say, "You'll get no more funding unless you mutter empty Internet words that make us swoon," and e-commerce knocks them over.

The significance of sexual relations was also reinforced about a week after the ADS vote, on Jan. 16, when the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association was fired for publishing an article whose subject was the meaning of sex as understood by college students.

Before the vote for the Word of the Year, the assembly chose winners in eight categories. Votes were by show of hand and are approximate.

1. Most Useful: e- 35 votes. Others: senior moment (11) momentary lapse of memory due to age; multislacking (5) playing at the computer when one should be working; open source (2) source code of software programs available to all.

2. Most Unnecessary: the entire Monica Lewinsky word family, 28 votes. This includes Big She as a synonym for M.L., and the verb Lewinsky, to engage in what might be sexual relations. Others: phone family (19), group of people with the same phone number in different area codes; Big She (7).

3. Most Likely to Succeed: e- 25 votes. Others: rage as in road rage, etc. (18); moment as in senior moment, Kodak moment (12).

4. Least Likely to Succeed: compfusion (26) confusion over computers. Others: explornography (22) tourism in exotic and dangerous places; Ruth- Aaron pair (4) two consecutive numbers the sum of whose prime factors is equal; jiggy (2) as in get jiggy, be active.

5. Most Outrageous: Ejaculation Proclamation (41) the President's confession. Others: wrong-site surgery (7) surgery on the wrong side of the body; Lovegety (5) electronic transceiver of love receptiveness.

6. Most Original: multislacking (30). Others: angst bunny (20) young woman with black clothes and lots of body piercing; Preslyterianism (4) cult of Elvis Presley in the South; bililoquy (1) conversation with one's alter ego.

7. Most Euphemistic: senior moment (22). Others: symmetry failure (16) another name for wrong-site surgery; controlled flight into terrain (6) airplane crash with a good pilot and good plane; demographic fatigue (6) problems caused by overpopulation; sexual relations (5).

8. Brand new (coined during the year, not previously attested): -agra or -gra (26) suffix denoting substance prompting men to perform unusually, as in Directra that causes men to ask for directions, from the drug name Viagra. Others: PPD (16) or politics of personal destruction; MAD (14) or millennial anxiety disorder, distress at the end of the millennium; dot (6) to strike someone with light from a laser pointer.

Categories and the list of nominees were determined earlier in the day at an open meeting of the New Words Committee, chaired by Wayne Glowka. The starting point was lists provided by Glowka, David Barnhart (editor of the Barnhart Dictionary Companion), and Gareth Branwyn (contributing editor, Wired, and author of Jargon Watch).

On January 7, 2000, we will have quadruple duty, choosing not only words for 1999 but also those for the decade of the 1990s, the 20th century, and the second millennium. Everyone is invited to join the discussion and propose candidates, either on ADS-L or by sending them to Glowka at Dept. of English and Speech, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville GA 31061; by .

1997 Word of the Year: Millennium Bug

As the Year 2000 crawled closer, members and guests of the American Dialect Society, meeting in New York City, recognized the looming peril of the millennium bug by voting it Word (or Phrase) of the Year 1997. The bug that causes older computer software to think that the year after 1999 is 1900 was a prominent subject of public discussion in 1997. It was also argued that millennium bug should be the Society's choice because it was foretold (as the term for 1998) in the recent book America in So Many Words by David K. Barnhart and Allan A. Metcalf.

The final vote, in any case, was 21 for millennium bug to 15 for runner-up -[r]azzi, an aggressive pursuer, as in paparazzi or stalkerazzi. Before the vote for Word of the Year, the assembly chose winners in these categories:

1. Most Useful: tie between -[r]azzi and duh expression of stupidity. Each received 20 votes in a runoff. Other candidates in the first vote: office (verb) to do office work, 4 votes; Y2K another name for the millennium bug, 4 votes.

2. Most Unnecessary: heaven-o (28 votes) replacement for the greeting hello approved by the city council in Kingsville, Texas. Others: disintermediation (9 votes) doing away with the intermediary by selling directly from manufacturer to consumer; yuppie puppy (3) second generation yuppie; Cablinasian (1) ethnic self-description of golfer Tiger Woods, from Caucasian, Black, Indian, Asian.

3. Most Likely to Succeed: DVD (30) Digital Versatile Disk, optical disk technology expected to replace CDs. Others: handheld (4) (noun) handheld digital device; push (2) automatic delivery of customized Internet content to one's desktop; be dilberted (2) to be mistreated or taken advantage of by one's boss.

4. Most Outrageous: Florida flambé (23) fire caused by Florida electric chair. The other candidate in the runoff vote was exit bag (17) bag placed over the head to assist in suicide. In the first vote: Prince Albert (7) ring worn in the head of the penis; pro-snip (5) in favor of castration for convicted sex offenders; robo-roach (3) cockroach controlled by an electronic backpack.

5. Most Original: prairie dogging (24) popping up one's head above an office cubicle for the sake of curiosity. Others: teledildonics (6) sexual interaction by means of virtual reality; El Nonsense (6) illogical association of an event with El Niņo; spamouflage a non-spam-like header on a spam email message.

6. Most Euphemistic: exit bag (22). Others: corrections cocktail (7) mixture of feces and urine thrown at officers in prisons; UCE (6) unsolicited commercial email, that is, spam; heaven-o (4).

7. Brand New (coined during the year, not previously attested): El Nonsense (29). Others: bird flu (5) Hong Kong H5N1 avian flu transmissible to humans; Giggy (4) Gigantosaurus carolinii, dinosaur larger than T. rex.

8. Word of the Year first vote: millennium bug (16); -[r]azzi (14); jitterati (3) coffee fetishists; road rage (3) anger at other motorists; the bomb (1) the greatest; Elvis witness (1) someone who has seen a missing person after the reported time of disappearance; virtual (1) as in reality; duh (1).

Categories and the list of nominees were determined earlier in the day at an open meeting of the New Words Committee, chaired by Wayne Glowka. The starting point was lists provided by Glowka, David Barnhart (editor of the Barnhart Dictionary Companion), and Gareth Branwyn (contributing editor, Wired, and author of Jargon Watch).

ADS members and friends are invited to send nominees for 1998 to Wayne Glowka at Dept. of English and Speech, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville GA 31061, .

This was the eighth annual vote on Words of the Year. Detailed results of previous votes are reported in the respective January issues of this newsletter.

1996 Word of the Year: Mom

In its annual vote at its annual meeting on , the American Dialect Society chose as word of the year mom as in soccer mom, the newly significant type of voter courted by both candidates during the presidential campaign. That phrase spun off other designations such as minivan mom and waitress mom.

Mom received 25 votes in the final show of hands, compared with 16 for the runner-up alpha geek, the person in a workplace who knows most about computers.

Every year since 1990 the Society has voted on words that are most representative of the year gone by. The chosen words or phrases do not have to be brand new, since few completely new words attain wide currency, but they do have to be newly prominent or distinctive. The selection is serious, based on members' tracking of new words during the year, but it is far from solemn, since many of the words represent fads and foibles of the year. Some less well known words are chosen because they are ingenious inventions.

Before the vote on Word (or Phrase) of the Year, members chose winners in particular categories. These were the other 1996 choices:

Most Useful: dot (18 votes) used instead of period in email and URL addresses. Runner-up was d'oh (12) recognition of one's stupidity (from the Simpsons TV show).

Most Unnecessary: Mexican hustle (20) another name for the Macarena (and it's not Mexican). Runner-ups were bridge to the 21st century (13) the putative work of presidential candidate Bill Clinton, and uber- (6) prefix substituting for super as in ubermom.

Most Controversial: Ebonics (unanimous) African-American vernacular English. Even among ADS members Ebonics was controversial, as they found themselves disagreeing on the definition. Does Ebonics imply that it is a separate language?

Most Likely to Succeed: drive-by (25) designating brief visits or hospital stays as in drive-by labor, drive-by mastectomy, drive-by viewing. Runner-up nail (7) to accomplish perfectly, as an Olympic feat, election victory, or movie role.

Most Outrageous: toy soldier (22) land mine (in the former Yugoslavia). Runner-ups stalkerazzi (4) photographers (paparazzi) who stalk their prey, and roofie (3) Rohypnol, the date-rape drug.

Most Original: prebuttal (18) preemptive rebuttal; quick response to a political adversary. Runner-up: alpha geek (14).

Most Euphemistic: tie (18 each) between urban camping living homeless in a city, and food insecure said of a country where people are starving.

Word of the Year, first vote: mom 7, alpha geek 7, drive-by 7, go there to mention a topic 6, dot 5, all that 5, Macarena 2, stalkerazzi 2, nail 1, prebuttal 1, una as in Unabomber 1.

Second vote: mom 12, alpha geek 9, drive-by 7, go there 7, dot 4, all that 3.

Third vote: mom 17, alpha geek 10, drive-by 9, go there 6.

Final vote: mom 25, alpha geek 16.

1995 Words of the Year: Web and Newt

In a tie vote at the American Dialect Society's annual meeting, both World-Wide Web and newt were chosen as Words of the Year 1995.

World Wide Web, also known as the Web, WWW, W3, refers to the newly prominent resource on the Internet. "It seems to us to be clearly the most important of these items and the one that will have the greatest future impact on both language and society," said John and Adele Algeo, conductors of Among the New Words in the American Dialect Society quarterly journal American Speech, when they placed World-Wide Web in nomination.

Newt, meaning to make aggressive changes as a newcomer, but also found in combinations like Newt World Order and Newtspeak, reflects the new prominence of Newt Gingrich, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Newt was nominated by David Barnhart, editor of the new-words quarterly Barnhart Dictionary Companion.

Preceding the final vote on New Word of the Year, members and friends of the American Dialect Society, meeting at the Summerfield Suites in downtown Chicago, also chose these winners in six particular categories:

Most Useful: E.Q. (for Emotional Quotient), the ability to manage one's emotions, seen as a factor in achievement.

Most Unnecessary: Vanna White shrimp, large shrimp for the restaurant market.

Most Likely to Succeed: World Wide Web and its variants.

Most Original: postal or go postal, to act irrationally, often violently, from stress at work.

Most Outrageous: starter marriage, a first marriage not expected to be the last, akin to starter home.

Most Euphemistic: patriot, an old term used in the new sense of one who believes in using force of arms if necessary to defend individual rights against the government.

1994 Words of the Year: Cyber and Morph

Tie: cyber, pertaining to computers and electronic communication, and morph, to change form.

Most Useful: gingrich, to deal with government agencies, policies, and people in the manner of U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Most Promising: Infobahn, the Internet.

Most Imaginative: guillermo, an email message in a foreign language.

Most Euphemistic: challenged, indicating an undesirable or unappealing condition.

Most Trendy: dress down day or casual day, a workday when employees are allowed to dress casually.

Most Beautiful: sylvanshine, night-time iridescence of forest trees.

1993 Word of the Year: Information Superhighway

Information Superhighway, the national and international network of computers.

Most Useful: thing premodified by a noun, e.g. "a Chicago thing."

Most Unnecessary: mosaic culture to describe a multicultural society.

Most Likely to Succeed: quotative like with a form of the verb be to indicate speech or thought.

Most Outrageous: whirlpooling, assault of a female by a male group in a swimming pool.

Most Amazing: cybersex, sexual stimulation by computer.

Most Imaginative: McJob, a generic, unstimulating, low-paying job.

Most Euphemistic: street builder, a homeless person who constructs a shanty.

Most Unpronounceable: Jurassosaurus nedegoapeferkimorum, a new dinosaur.

1992 Word of the Year: Not!

Not! expression of disagreement.

Most Useful: grunge, a style of clothing.

Most Unnecessary: gender feminism, belief that sex roles are social, not biological.

Most Outrageous: ethnic cleansing, purging of ethnic minorities.

Most Original: Franken-, genetically altered.

Most Likely to Succeed: snail mail, s-mail, mail that is physically delivered, as opposed to email.

Most Amazing: Munchhausen's syndrome by proxy, illness fabricated to evoke sympathy for the caregiver.

1991 Word of the Year: Mother of All

Mother of All, greatest,

Most Unnecessary: massively parallel, many small computers yoked together.

Most Successful: in your face, aggressive, confrontational, flamboyant.

Most Original: molecular pharming, pharming, genetically modifying farm animals to produce human proteins for pharmaceutical use.

Most Likely to Succeed: rollerblade, skate with rollers in a single row.

Most Amazing: velcroid, a person who sticks by the (U.S.) president, especially for photo opportunities.

1990 Word of the Year: Bushlips

Bushlips, insincere political rhetoric.

Most Useful: technostupidity, loss of ability through dependence on machines, and potty parity, equalization of toilet facilities for the sexes.

Most Unnecessary: peace dividend, anticipated saving in military spending due to improved relations with the Soviet Union.

Most Outrageous: politically correct, PC, adhering to principles of left-wing social concern.

Most Original: voice merging, the oral tradition of African-American preachers using another's words.

Most Likely to Succeed: notebook PC, a portable personal computer weighting 4-8 pounds, and rightsizing, adjusting the size of a staff by laying off employees.

Most Amazing: bungee jumping, jumping from a high platform with elastic cables on the feet.