Oxford word of the Year

13 11 2007

Oxford Word of the Year: courtesy of the New York Times

Google’s cafeteria, Barbara Kingsolver’s kitchen, writers at The New York Times, and now, leading wordsmiths at the Oxford American Dictionary, who are adding their lexicographic seal of approval:

The 2007 Word of the Year is (drum-roll please) locavore.

The past year saw the popularization of a trend in using locally grown ingredients, taking advantage of seasonally available foodstuffs that can be bought and prepared without the need for extra preservatives.

The movement has been building for years, from Chef Alice Waters’s pioneering work in the 1970’s to the opening of a Whole Foods grocery store in the middle of Manhattan. But the word locavore was coined only two years ago in San Francisco.

Falling just short of the top prize was the crucial word in a catchphrase for the ages, born at an appearance by Senator John Kerry at the University of Florida in September. In mid-scuffle with security guards, Andrew Meyer blurted out a verb formed from the brand name for an electric stun gun, and the dictionary authorities approve:

tase (or taze): to stun with a Taser

Other runners-up have also made prominent appearances in The Times, including colony collapse disorder, cougar (redefined), MRAP vehicle and bacn.

There are several more listed on Oxford’s blog. And if your appetite for new words and word uses is still unsated, the Dictionary Evangelist is kind enough to name some runners-up to the runners-up.

Runners up:

aging in place: the process of growing older while living in one’s own residence, instead of having to move to a new home or community

bacn: email notifications, such as news alerts and social networking updates, that are considered more desirable than unwanted “spam” (coined at PodCamp Pittsburgh in Aug. 2007 and popularized in the blogging community)

cloudware: online applications, such as webmail, powered by massive data storage facilities, also called “cloud servers”

colony collapse disorder: a still-unexplained phenomenon resulting in the widespread disappearance of honeybees from beehives, first observed in late 2006

: an older woman who romantically pursues younger men

MRAP vehicle: Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, designed to protect troops from improvised explosive devices (IEDs)

mumblecore: an independent film movement featuring low-budget production, non-professional actors, and largely improvised dialogue

previvor: a person who has not been diagnosed with a form of cancer but has survived a genetic predisposition for cancer

social graph: the network of one’s friends and connections on social websites such as Facebook and Myspace

upcycling: the transformation of waste materials into something more useful or valuable




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