The Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas has released its top words of 2012 and heading the list is the Apocalypse as earth’s citizens nervously went through the motions this year, fearing that it may indeed be our last.
Unless something really dramatic kicks in over the next two days, the vast majority of us should be around to greet 2013 and whether this will be “Lucky ’13” or not remains to be seen.
As a writer, I’m fascinated by words and I’m always looking for ways to expand my vocabulary. But I must admit, I haven’t used too many of the words on this year’s list including ‘ermahgerd’ which at first had me puzzled as to its meaning but when you sound it out, it’s just another way of saying OMG without texting.
Actually, ermahgerd didn’t make the list but it did receive a special mention as well as Gangnam style – this proves to me how out of touch I’m becoming with popular culture as this video has been seen around the world by millions. Once I saw it, I recognized both the song and the horse dance but was truly clueless as to the words gangnam style.
Bushmaster semi-automatic and fiscal cliff didn’t have enough mentions to make the Monitor’s list but they show up on many others. Other phrases like Eastwooding – the practice of addressing empty chairs and Frankenstorm – the moniker for hurricane Sandy also deserve honorable mentions.
So here’s the list of the most popular words of 2012. Use them soon before they’re expired.
After all, YOLO.
1. Apocalypse/Armageddon, and variations thereof – Now that the Mayan calendar has turned the page, people will stop worrying about the total destruction of the planet but be warned and be ready because you never know what’s just around the corner.
2. Deficit – fiscal deficit, attention deficit – there are many deficits we will continue to worry about and discuss.
3. Olympiad – the games came and went and now this term will be dormant until the next Olympics.
4. Bak’tun – A cycle of 144,000 days in the Maya ‘Long Count’ Calendar. This bak’tun ended on December 21, 2012, and now that it’s past tense, the word will be as well.
5. Meme – Internet Memes can best be conceived as thoughts or ideas rather than words, since they can and often do encompass sounds, photos, and text. Quite frankly, I don’t get this whole meme thing at all.
6. MOOC – Massive Open Online Course; the nature of higher education is changing and MOOC is the phenomenon to watch. Really? This was the first time I even saw the letters MOOC put together to actually meme something – oops, I meant mean something.
7. The Cloud – This post will live in the cloud. I don’t really understand the cloud but it does make getting data easier to store and access.
8. Omnishambles – The top word of the Oxford American Dictionary team, where everything, everywhere seems to be in a state of disarray. Similar to this post.
9. Frankenstorm – Mentioned earlier – I didn’t know Hurricane Sandy had this name. I guess I wasn’t watching enough of The Weather Channel.
10. Obesogenic – An environment that tends to encourage obesity. This past week, I have been indulging in obesogenic behavior.
11. Hen – The Swedish attempt to create a gender-neutral pronoun to replace him or her: hen. Those crazy Swedes! I always thought hens dealt with chickens, not humans.
12. Derecho – A ‘land hurricane,’ with extremely strong, one-directional winds. Another term from The Weather Channel that blew right by me.
13. Hashtag – The ‘pound sign’ reborn as the all-powerful Twitter hash tag. In my days, hash had a completely different meaning.
14. Drones – Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that are piloted remotely or by on-board computers. Watch out, soon drones will be policing our malls.
15. Fracking – The extraction of fossil fuels by hydraulic fracturing in rock formations, and injecting fluids to force the release of hitherto inaccessible hydrocarbons. This is a holdover from last year’s list. I didn’t use it once last year, didn’t use it this year and probably won’t in 2013.
16. Phobes – An opponent who is also a hater. More of a British word than American but it might make its way across the pond.
17. Superfood – Foods that are calorie sparse and nutrient dense. Fruitcake?
18. The 47 – Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s characterization of the percentage of Americans who pay no Federal taxes.
19. YOLO – You Only Live Once – a term spoken quite frequently around our household.
20. Adorkable – An adorable dork – another term I never heard before I saw this list and I wonder if it’s good or bad to be adorkable.
So there you have it. Special thanks to the Global Language Monitor. I’m sure there are some truly adorkable voters who sat around, surrounded by superfood, creating an obesogenic environment where they cast their votes as drones hovered above them, waiting for the apocalypse to arrive.
Happy wordsmithing in 2013!