Lexiteria Picks Top 10 Words of 2006
Lewisburg, Pa.—The Lexiteria, parent company of alphaDictionary.com, the online language resource website, today announced its Top Ten English words of 2006.
alphaDictionary's top words were chosen for their newsworthiness based on responses from visitors to the alphaDictionary site, participants of its word discussion group, the Alpha Agora, and subscribers to its popular word-of-the-day series, "So, What's the Good Word". These factors were then checked against how many times the word appears on the web using the major search engines.
Putting all these factors together, alphaDictionary editors came up with the following list:
- amnesty—This word, based on the Greek word for forgetfulness and akin to "amnesia", refers to a case of legal amnesia about wrong-doing. Congress seems split on the question of whether we should forget about the illegal status of residents without proper documentation.
- Hezbollah—The organization whose attack on northern Israel caught everyone by surprise and brought "Islamophobia" to fourth position on our list this year.
- google—The Web's dominant search engine lost its trademark to the ever-hungry English dictionaries.
- Islamophobia—At last English has a near antonym for "anti-Semitic", which is used only in reference to one of the Semitic peoples.
- backdate—Back-dating has always been a 'no-no' but the discovery that corporate executives with multimillion-dollar salaries were backdating their stock options to increase their income put it on the tips of our tongues.
- undocumented—Illegal aliens move to remove the stigma of "illegal" from their press.
- nonproliferation—Iran and North Korea brought this word back in the news in 2006 with their nuclear programs.
- pretexting—The stock-and-trade of PIs like Philip Marlowe and Jim Rockford gets named when executives at Hewlett-Packard get involved.
- hybrid—Higher gas prices moved this word out of the vocabulary of environmentalists into main stream talk.
- Wi-Fi—The latest (last?) step in making the Wired Society wireless.
The voting was close for the Word of the Year. "Hezbollah" was the favorite of alphaDictionary voters but "amnesty" was finally chosen because of its longer stint in the news and larger number of occurrences on the Web.
"Amnesty is interesting because of its relationship to amnesia." said Dr. Robert Beard, president of The Lexiteria, "We have to forget a lot of criticism in the press this year to offer amnesty to those currently living illegally in the US."
When asked about Merriam-Webster's choice of Stephen Colbert's facetious word truthiness as its word of the year, Dr. Beard replied that it hardly deserves the honor. According to Beard, "Truthiness is not even a word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary though truthy, meaning 'truthful' appeared in the 1913 edition only to be removed later."
Beard characterized truthiness as a sniglet, a word that is not in the dictionary but should be, according to humorist Rich Hall. Sniglets tend to be facetious concoctions and are collected on the alphaDictionary website (click here). Sniglet was itself the first sniglet.
Lexiteria suggests the following as a list of the Top 10 Sniglets of the 2006.
- Crackberry—For those addicted to their Blackberry this word works nicely.
- drainchild—Not all brainchildren work well so we need a word for a bright idea that drains resources without benefit.
- boomerangst—The anxiety of the baby boomers about their future as well as that of the government in providing for them are both wrapped up in this word which also leaves the impression that it is a problem that has returned to bite us.
- politicide— This word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) this year so is it still a sniglet? We learned this year that bribe-taking and philandery have become forms of politicide.
- politricks—This word, also added to the OED this year, is a good replacement for "political dirty tricks" of the Nixon years.
- wingnut—We have left-wing nuts and right-wing nuts but what about extremists of both sides? Well, this word would work if we didn't already have extremist.
- IMglish—We like this sniglet for the abbretiated language of instant messaging. IMing has already entered the language alongside IDing as an acronymic verb.
- keypal—So what do you call a pen pal if you never use a pen to write him (or her)? Well, if you use a keyboard, this one will work.
- moonbat—We really don't need another word for someone with bats in their belfry who bay at the moon but this one still has a nice ring about it.
- truthiness—This is actually a legitimate word to the extent truthy, like filmy, syrupy, would mean "like the truth", it could mean "similarity to the truth". We don't need it for Colbert's meaning, "gut feeling", however, since George Orwell's bellyfeel from Nineteen Eighty-Four covers any semantic space gut feeling doesn't. We only include it because of its media popularity.
Top 10 Words from Dr. Beard and his Team in Previous Years
Top 10 Words of 2005
Top 10 Words of 2004
Top 10 Words of 2003
Top 10 Words of 2002
Top 10 Words of 2001
Top 10 Words of 2000
The Lexiteria is a major provider of custom word lists, word frequency lists, glossaries and dictionaries to the largest US publishing houses, pharmaceutical testing companies, and web companies. Its language resource website, alphaDictionary.com, offers authentic insights into language, help in spelling and grammar, plus language fun, such as its very popular Yankee-Rebel test.
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