Bailout: 2008 ADS Word of the Year

Yesterday at its annual meeting in San Francisco, the American Dialect Society decided on its “word of the year” for 2008, bailout. Other nominees were:

  • The names Barack and Obama as combining forms, resulting in dozens of words like Barackstar, Barackiavellian, Obamania, and Obamadammarung
  • lipstick on a pig
  • change
  • shovel-ready
  • game-changer

Voted “Most Useful” were the combining forms Barack and Obama.

Voted “Most Creative” was recombobulation area, an area at the Milwaukee airport where passengers who have just passed through security can get their clothes and belongs back together.

Voted “Most Unnecessary” was moofing, from “mobile out of office,” meaning working without a fixed office via laptop and phone.

Voted “Most Outrageous” was terrorist fist jab/bump, a knuckle-to-knuckle touching of fists, so called by the newscaster E. D. Hill of Fox News in a stunning display of both racial insensitivity and political bias.

Voted “Most Euphemistic” was scooping technician, a person whose job is to pick up dog poop.

Voted “Most Likely to Succeed” was shovel-ready, which describes infrastructure projects that can start as soon as funding is made available and which has great metaphorical possibilities.

Voted “Least Likely to Succeed” was PUMA, an acronym for Party Unity, My Ass, used by disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters after she lost to Obama in the primaries. Later on it was lexically and politically bowdlerized as Party Unity Means Action.

A special category of Election-Related Words was created. Maverick was voted as the most significant in this category.

The full list of nominated words and voting results can be found here.

Similarly, the American Name Society also held its vote for 2008 Name of the Year. The winner was Barack Hussein Obama, which also won in the category of Personal Name.

Wasilla was voted Place Name of the Year.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were voted Trade Names of the Year.

And Edward, the name of the vampire in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series of books and the film, was voted Fictional Name of the Year.

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