Oxford Dictionaries “Word of the Year 2011”


NEW YORK, Nov. 22, 2011 Every year, the dictionaries teams at Oxford University Press in the UK and the US put their heads together and come up with a Word (or Phrase) of the Year. This year, for the first time, both the UK and US teams have agreed on a global Word of the Yearsqueezed middle.

Among their other activities, lexicographers at Oxford University Press track how the vocabulary of the English language is changing from year to year. Every year, a ‘Word of the Year’ is debated and chosen, with the selection made to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.

Squeezed middle: the section of society regarded as particularly affected by inflation, wage freezes, and cuts in public spending during a time of economic difficulty, consisting principally of those people on low or middle incomes.

While squeezed middle is British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband‘s term for those seen as bearing the brunt of government tax burdens while having the least with which to relieve it, the Word of the Year committee in the US felt it had good resonance in the US, as well. Susie Dent, spokesperson for Oxford Dictionaries, said: “The speed with which squeezed middle has taken root, and the likelihood of its endurance while anxieties deepen, made it a good global candidate for Word of the Year.”

This year saw a particularly strong shortlist of contenders for Word of the Year. The shortlisted words for the US and UK differ, reflecting differences between more local issues and culture.

In alphabetical order, here’s the full U.S. shortlist for 2011′s word of the year, along with OED definitions:

  • Arab Spring: A series of anti-government uprisings in various countries in North Africa and the Middle East, beginning in Tunisia in December 2010.
  • Bunga bunga: Used in reference to parties hosted by the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, at which various illicit sexual activities were alleged to have taken place.
  • Clicktivism: The use of social media and other online methods to promote a cause.
  • Crowdfunding: The practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.
  • Fracking: The forcing open of fissures in subterranean rocks by introducing liquid at high pressure, especially to extract oil or gas.
  • Gamification: The application of concepts and techniques from games to other areas of activity, for instance as an online marketing technique.
  • Occupy: The name given to an international movement protesting against perceived economic injustice by occupying buildings or public places and staying there for an extended period of time.
  • The 99%: The bottom 99% of income earners, regarded collectively.
  • Tiger mother: A demanding mother who pushes her children to high achievement using methods regarded as typical of Asian childrearing.
  • Sifi: A bank or other financial institution regarded as so vital to the functioning of the overall economy that it cannot be allowed to fail, a.k.a. “systemically important financial institution.”

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References: http://mashable.com/2011/11/26/tech-buzzwords-shortlist-word-of-the-year/

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/squeezed-middle-is-named-oxford-dictionaries-word-of-the-year-2011-134361588.html

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2 Responses to “Oxford Dictionaries “Word of the Year 2011””

  1. Painter Oxford Says:

    Hi Haseeb.

    Fantastic post. It’s fascinating how language adapts and changes over time.

    Best wishes, Alex

    Like

    • Haseeb Akmal (حسیب اکمل) Says:

      Thanks Alex,

      keep visiting the blog.

      Like


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