American Dialect Society's Word of the Year

What is the American Dialect Society?

The American Dialect Society was founded in 1889 to study the English language in North America and how it influences or is influenced by other languages and dialects. The society has a quarterly journal, American Speech; a newsletter published three times a year, NADS; and a book in the Publication of the American Dialect Society monography series published once a year. 1

What is the Word of the Year?

Each year, the American Dialect Society meets together to determine the Word of the Year. The Society states, "The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year, in the manner of Time magazine’s Person of the Year." 2 The nomination categories sometimes change, and have included categories such as brand new, most useful, most creative, most outrageous, most unnecessary, most euphemistic, most likely to succeed, and least likely to succeed.

While a word is selected each year, the words listed below show the important role technology plays in society. (Nominations not dealing with technology have been left out.)


  • Word of the Year: Hashtag (#hashtag)
  • Nominations:
    • Marriage Equality
    • YOLO (You Only Live Once)
    • 47 Percent
    • Fiscal Cliff
    • Gangnam Style


  • Word of the Year: Occupy
  • Nominations:
    • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
    • The 99%
    • Humblebrag
    • Job Creator



  • Word of the Year: tweet
  • Word of the Decade: google (this means "to search the Internet" and isn't in direct reference to the popular search engine) 5
  • Nominations 6:
    • sexting
    • un- (used online in cases such as untag, unlike, unfavorite, or unfollow)
    • tether (connecting a laptop to a phone for Internet connection)
    • blog
    • text



The nominations and word of the year dealt with politics, due to the presidential election.


  • Nominations 7:
    • bacn (email that is impersonal [such as newletters or alerts] and nearly as annoying as spam, but one chose to receive)
    • Googleganger (someone with your same name who appears if you search your name)
    • lolcat


  • Nominations: 89
    • e-voting (using computers to calculated election results)
    • foleyed (have an embarrassing IM conversation made public)
    • sock puppet (false identity on the Internet)
    • spew (gibberish in spam messages intended to fool a filter)
    • blook (a blog turned book or a book published on a blog)
    • clickprint (uniquely identifying pattern of one's web-surfing habits)
    • ego-surfing (putting one's own name in a search engine)
    • SMiShing (phishing via SMS/texting)





  • Nominations


  • Nominations:
    • pop under
    • second-hand speech (overheared cell phone conversations)
    • dot-orging (changing employment from a dot-com to a dot-org) 17


  • Nominations:
    • starter castle (the first house of a dot-commer)
    • m-commerce (buying and selling over a cell phone
    • Wireless Application Protocol (enables wireless devices to connect together)
    • bricks-and-clicks (a traditional business with a website)
    • dot bomb (a failed dot-com)
    • blobject (a product like the Mac computer with a curved design)
    • dot snot (a young dot-com millionare) 18



  • Word of the Decade: web
  • Nominations:
    • dot-com (a company operating online)
    • portal (entry site to the Internet)
    • e-tail (retail business conducted online)
    • baby Bills (companies that Bill Gates' Microsoft could be broken up into due to the government's antitrust lawsuit)
    • cybersquat
    • mousetrapping (blocking exit from a website) 19



  • Word of the Year: e- (short for electronic; e-mail, e-commerce, e-business)
  • Nominations:
    • open source
    • compfusion (confusion over computers)
    • multislacking (being online when should be working) 20


  • Word of the Year: millenium bug (aka Y2K bug; older computer software thinks the year after 1999 is 1900)
  • Nominations:
    • handheld (handheld digital device)
    • teledildonics (sexual interaction via virutal reality)
    • spamouflage (a non-spam-like header on a spam email)
    • UCE (unsolicited commercial email; spam)
    • virtual (as in virtual reality) 21


  • Nominations:
    • alpha geek (person in the workplace knowing most about computers)
    • dot (the period in URL or email addresses 22


  • Word of the Year: World Wide Web (tied with newt, as in Newt Gingrich) 23


  • Word of the Year: cyber (tied with morph)
  • Nominations:


  • Word of the Year: information superhighway (national and international network of computers)
  • Nominations:


  • Nominations:
    • snail mail (hand delivered mail, as opposed to email) 26


  • Nominations:
    • massively parallel (many small computers connected together) 27


  • Nominations:
    • technostupidity (loss of ability through dependence on machines)
    • notebook PC 28