Printable Version
Pronunciation: plu-to Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. "To demote or devalue" is the American Dialect Society's definition of this word. If this is true, we don't need it, do we? Demote and devalue are all we need here. 2. Most people use plutoed as simply a synonym of zapped or screwed over which, well, plutoes it to a large group of ever-changing slang terms with this sense.

Notes: I think it is way too soon to be promoting pluto with a small P as an English verb. However, since the American Dialect Society has chosen plutoed as its Word of the Year for 2006, we cannot ignore it since the previous year it chose truthiness, the 2006 Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. When the International Astronomical Union redefined the word planet to exclude Pluto in 2006, this celestial object was plutoed worse than when Walt Disney named his goofy dog after it. We do have to remember to add the E to the present as well as past tenses of this new word(?): plutoes and plutoed, but plutoing.

In Play: A meaning that we could assign this word (since it is still brand new) is "to be decategorized, to be eliminated from a category as a result of redefining the category": "Raphael was plutoed when the company redefined the sales department as marketing, making someone with his credentials superfluous." However, most folks use it as a slang term as mentioned in Definition 2 above: "Our manager was plutoed when Frieda Gogh told his boss how he dangled me out the fourth-floor window by the feet."

Word History: The small bit of rock out at the edge of our solar system called Pluto—whatever it is—took its name from the Latin god of death and the underworld, Pluto. Pluto's name is based on Greek ploutos "wealth" (you can't take it with you). This word goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root pleu- "flow", since dead souls in the classical Greek religion had to be ferried across the river Styx to reach the underworld. A flow or flood of money, of course, is wealth. This same root came through Old Germanic to English as flow and flood. In Latin it shows up as pluvia "rain", pluie in French today. English pluvial "rainy" was taken from the Latin. (Let's not pluto our long-time South African friend Chris Stewart by not thanking him for spotting the ADS Word of the Year and sharing his find with everyone.)

Dr. Goodword,

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