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What were the Top Words of the Decade? (You might want to Google it)

Scrabble Dictionary

Every year for the past 20 years, the AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY has gotten together to analyze and review word usage for the previous 12 months.  The beginning of 2010 is no exception, as Allan Metcalf and Grant Barrett (from MacMurray College and the online dictionary, respectively) have released this year’s WORD OF THE YEAR and WORD OF THE DECADE.

The word of the year?   “tweet”, as either a description of the act of using Twitter, or the Twitter message itself.

The word of the decade?  “google”, used as a generic verb to search the Internet.

The criteria to be selected as a word of the year or word of the decade is quite elaborate, but requires the word to not just be a newly-minted or used word, but one that transcends into notability over the course of the year.


  • MOST USEFUL:  fail.  Such as seen on failblog
  • MOST CREATIVE:  Dracula sneeze.  When you sneeze into your elbow, so you look like Dracula
  • MOST UNNECESSARY: sea kittens.  From a PETA campaign
  • MOST EUPHEMISTIC: hike the Appalachian trail.  A reference to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford
  • MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED: twenty-ten

Previously selected WORDS OF THE YEAR include:

  • 2008:  bailout
  • 2007: subprime
  • 2006: to be plutoed
  • 2005:  truthiness
  • 2004:  red/blue/purple states
  • 2003: metrosexual
  • 2002: weapons of mass destruction
  • 2001: 9/11
  • 2000: chad 
  • 1999: Y2K
  • 1998: the prefix “e-“, as in “e-mail”
  • 1997: millennium bug
  • 1996: soccer mom
  • 1995 (tie): World Wide Web,  newt
  • 1994: cyber
  • 1993: information superhighway
  • 1992: NOT!
  • 1991: mother of all….
  • 1990: bushlips

Also selected in 2000 was the word of the previous decade: “web”, and the word of the 20th century: “jazz”