Is there anything more exciting for writers than new words? I’m making them up all the time. My partner Mat and I once convinced most people we know that “Ploubalay” was another word for Frisbee. It’s not. It’s actually a village in the French region of Brittany. But we loved the word so much, we wanted to find a use for it in everyday life.
My family still calls a Frisbee “Ploubalay” today, but I think it’s just to humour me.
So here’s my gift to you this festive season: not one but 4 WORDS OF THE YEAR, as announced by the powers that be: dictionary lexicographers.
They might not all be new words. But they are each interesting in their own way.
Australian word of the year: “Kwaussie”
Ah yes. The word for people who can’t decide whether they are Kiwi or Aussie. Apparently it’s been used for decades, but rose to popularity again in 2017 thanks to the government’s citizenship saga. Apparently, that was enough for the Australian National Dictionary Centre to choose “kwaussie” as its word of the year. Has anyone actually ever used it? No matter.
Dictionary.com word of the year: “Complicit”
Beating ‘intersex’, ‘horologist’ and ‘totality’ in search this year, ‘complicit’ was a top choice for the word of the year. According to the dictionary website, searches for ‘complicit’ increased nearly 300%. Apparently the first spike came the day after Saturday Night Live aired a sketch with Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump promoting a fragrance called “Complicit” because: “She’s beautiful, she’s powerful, she’s complicit.” And the rest is history.
Collins Dictionary: “Fake news”
Okay, this one we get. The phrase has been ubiquitous in 2017. So much so that Collins Dictionary’s lexicographers said usage of the term “fake news” had increased by 365% since 2016.
Cambridge Dictionary: “Populism”
Are you sensing a theme? Yep, populism was the word of the year for Cambridge Dictionary. Everyone was talking about it, nobody really knew what it meant. Actually, I like this one because I had to look it up a couple of times. Once because I’d never heard the term. Then again because, when I thought I knew what “populism” meant, people seemed to be using it in ways that suggested I was wrong. Just to be clear, populism is described by the Cambridge Dictionary as ‘political ideas and activities that are intended to get the support of ordinary people by giving them what they want’. Just as I thought then…
Here’s a few of our favourites from 2016:
- Surreal (Merriam-Webster)
- Post-truth (Oxford Dictionaries)
- Brexit (Collins Dictionary)
- Sharenting (Collins Dictionary)
- JOMO (Collins Dictionary)
Oxford Dictionaries will reveal its Word of the Year 2017 on December 16. Any predictions?
Our money is on covfefe.