In its 22nd annual words of the year vote the American Dialect Society voted occupy (verb, noun, and combining form referring to the Occupy protest movement) as the word of the year for 2011.
“It’s a very old word, but over the course of just a few months it took on another life and moved in new and unexpected directions, thanks to a national and global movement,” Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the society, said, “The movement itself was powered by the word.”
Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year.
Other category winners:
Most Useful: humblebrag - expression of false humility, especially by celebrities on Twitter.
Most Creative: Mellencamp - a woman who has aged out of being a “cougar” (after John Cougar Mellencamp). This beat bunga bunga - name for sex parties allegedly involving former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and kardash - unit of measurement consisting of 72 days, after the short-lived marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.
Most Outrageous: assholocracy - rule by obnoxious multi-millionaires.
Most Likely to Succeed: cloud - online space for the large-scale processing and storage of data.
Founded in 1889, the American Dialect Society is dedicated to the study of the English language in North America, and of other languages, or dialects of other languages, influencing it or influenced by it. The society’s website is here.