Terror baby, gate rape, fauxhemian, skyaking: 2010 was a wonderful year for words. Even more delightful, then, that a term that can sometimes be applied to games won.
Beating out the onomatopoetic (nom), the crotchal (junk), the controversial (WikiLeaks) and even the buzzworthy (trend), the word "app" was selected earlier this month as 2010's word of the year by the 122-year-old American Dialect Society.
An app is described by the society as "an application program for a computer or phone operating system" and includes, of course games. While it came to prominence under Apple's marketing program for the iPhone, nowadays I hear it being used by all sorts of companies, including Microsoft, to describe programs and games.
Hey, at least they didn't choose something like Woot.
The American Dialect Society, a group of linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, editors, writers and historians, began choosing words of the year in 1990. Their choices don't always become an official part of the English language, that's a whole other ball of wax.
The decision is based on the particular word's prominence and notable in the year, sort of like Time magazine's Person of the Year, according to the group's press release.
App topped the list in 2010 because it came into vogue with the help of a strong marketing push.
"App has been around for ages, but with millions of dollars of marketing muscle behind the slogan ‘There's an app for that,' plus the arrival of ‘app stores' for a wide spectrum of operating systems for phones and computers, app really exploded in the last 12 months," said Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society and executive producer of VisualThesaurus.com. "One of the most convincing arguments from the voting floor was from a woman who said that even her grandmother had heard of it."
The group also votes on a number of other whimsical word categories. Here's the full break down.
WORD OF THE YEAR app: application program for a computer or phone operating system. As in "there's an app for that," an advertising slogan for the iPhone. 52/69 WINNER nom: Onomatopoetic form connoting eating, esp. pleasurably. Can be used as an interjection or noun to refer to delicious food. 34/51. junk as used in junk shot (attempt to fix BP oil spill), junk status (Greece's credit rating), don't touch my junk (protest against TSA pat-down procedure). 17 Wikileaks as proper noun, common noun, and verb. 12 Trend verb: to exhibit a burst of online buzz. 12
MOST USEFUL nom Onomatopoetic form connoting eating, esp. pleasurably. Can be used as an interjection or noun to refer to delicious food. 49/72 WINNER fat-finger verb: to mistype, as by accidentally striking more than one key on a keyboard/pad. 16 junk junk shot (attempt to fix BP oil spill), junk status (Greece's credit rating), don't touch my junk (protest against TSA pat-down procedure). 46/42 vuvuzela: South African plastic trumpet used by fans during the FIFA World Cup matches.
MOST CREATIVE prehab Preemptive enrollment in a rehab facility to prevent relapse of an abuse problem. 45/65 WINNER -sauce Intensive suffix, as in awesome-sauce ‘great' and lame-sauce ‘stupid'. 37/51 spillion An immense number, especially of gallons of oil in the Gulf spill. Also spillionaire, person made rich by money from BP's spill cleanup fund. 29 phoenix firm A troubled company that reemerges under a new name. 13
MOST UNNECESSARY refudiate Blend of refute and repudiate used by Sarah Palin on Twitter. 72/WINNER ironic moustache Facial hair worn as a statement of retro hipsterdom. 6 star whacker Imagined celebrity killer (alleged by actor Randy Quaid and his wife Evi). 16 hipsterdom: the state of being hip beyond all recognition. So hip you're unhip. 14
MOST OUTRAGEOUS gate rape Pejorative term for invasive new airport pat-down procedure. 55/67 WINNER terror baby Baby born to a terrorist family on U.S. soil in order to establish citizenship. 52/56 bed intruder Perpetrator of a home invasion in Huntsville, Ala., made famous by viral video. 22
MOST EUPHEMISTIC kinetic event Pentagon term for violent attacks on troops in Afghanistan. 84/WINNER corn sugar Corn Refiners Association's rebranding of high fructose corn syrup. 1. enhanced pat-down TSA's term for controversial new frisking procedure. 21 bed intruder Perpetrator of a home invasion in Huntsville, Ala., made famous by viral video. 19
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED trend Verb: to exhibit a burst of online buzz. 73/WINNER hacktivism Using computer hacking skills as a form of political or social activism. 34 -pad Combining form used by iPad and other tablet computers (ViewPad, WindPad, etc.). 22 telework Term used at federal level for work by an employee away from the office. 9
LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED culturomics Research project from Google analysing the history of language and culture 44/85 WINNER fauxhemian Winner of a Gawker poll to replace the term "hipster." 31 skyaking Jumping out of a plane in a kayak. 47/33 top kill / top hat / junk shot Various failed techniques to fix the BP oil spill. 11
ELECTION TERMS (new category) All terms agreed to be losers. The entire category was deleted by acclamation. Aqua Buddha Fictitious deity in collegiate scandal involving Rand Paul, raised during his Kentucky Senate campaign. mama grizzly Sarah Palin's term for a fiercely conservative female candidate. man up Exhortation to be responsible or "act like a man," used by Sharron Angle against Harry Reid in Nevada Senate race. Obamacare Pejorative term for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
FAN WORDS (new category) gleek A fan of the TV show "Glee" (Glee + geek) 90 WINNER belieber A fan of pop singer Justin Bieber (Bieber + believer) 3 little monster A fan of pop singer Lady Gaga, so called by the singer herself. 0 Twihard A fan of the "Twilight" books and movies. 7 Yat Dat A native-born fan of the New Orleans Saints. 14