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February 2, 2018 at 12:16 pm #2189
- Total Posts: 494
According to Wikipedia, the Word of the Year phenomenon dates back only to 1971, in a German version, Wort des Jahres, whose first winner was aufmüpfig, meaning rebellious or insubordinate, a reference to the German student movement and the counterculture vibe (or zeitgeist) of the era. In English, you might even call it a youthquake.
Youthquake, of course (?), was the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year … for 2017! That seems kind of odd, because youthquake was actually coined during the counterculture movement to describe the counterculture movement … in 1965. Those really were youthquakey times, and looking around today, I don’t really see what led to the word’s resurgence. The New Yorker suggests that it’s about the British elections wherein a rising up of younger voters failed to install the Labour Party after twelve long years out of power. Okay, so the Conservatives lost some seats, but is that really a youthquake?
Over on the left side of the Pond, Merriam-Webster’s WOTY is feminism, which we are informed was the most looked-up word online. But who needs to look up feminism? The article tells us the word spiked several times throughout the year, such as following the Women’s March on Washington and when Presidential spokesperson Kellyanne Conway said she doesn’t consider herself a feminist. Debuts of The Handmaid’s Tale and Wonder Woman contributed to the word’s popularity in 2017, but lookups have seemingly been driven by the prevalence of stories of sexual harrassment and the #MeToo movement.
Dictionary.com‘s WOTY is complicit. According to the website:
The first spike in searches for complicit was on March 12, with a 10,000% increase in daily average lookups. This was the day after Saturday Night Live aired their satirical ad featuring Scarlett Johansson playing Ivanka Trump, hawking a perfume called Complicit. This scent was marketed as “The fragrance for the woman who could stop all this, but won’t.”
The story then goes on to discuss other examples of complicity last year, from Scott Pruitt being complicit in Trump’s climate change denial to those who turned a blind eye to sexual harrassment in Hollywood, and also those who refused to be complicit, like Colin Kaepernick, participants in the Women’s March, and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, who resigned en masse.
2017’s WOTY have an undeniable political slant to them, and this is often, but not always, the case. Words might be purely cultural, like metrosexual, locavore or dumpster fire, but are often technology-related, like information superhighway (1993) or app (2010).
I wonder what word 2018 will bring?
February 2, 2018 at 5:07 pm #2190
- Total Posts: 103
With three little kids, the word I got the most use out of in 2017 was “no”.
Trying to find a word for 2017 that isn’t overtly political is hard, but I would probably go with “block chain”, which is the perfect word for this era. It is more or less totally useless, no one actually knows what it means, and people are being taken to the cleaners.
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