Monday, November 2, 2009

Word of the Year (from Webster's New World Dictionaries): distracted driving

Every year, many dictionary publishers announce their own word of the year. Often, the chosen word (as well as the runners-up) is a fairly new coinage that just has the ring of newness to it — words like locavore, overshare, blogging, and podcasting, that simple weren't around a decade ago. This year, though, the lexicographers at Webster's New World Dictionary have chosen as word of the year a two-word phrase whose constituent parts have been around for centuries, so it doesn't seem so new.

This year's WOTY winner, distracted driving, has seen increased use of late as courts deal with the legalities of accidents (and accidental deaths) caused by drivers' inattentiveness while they attempt to drive while texting, talking on cell phones, or watching DVDs.

Runners-up for word of the year are

  • cloud computing: common computer operations performed and stored on the Internet instead of on one's own computer
  • go viral: to become extremely popular, without the budget outlay that goes along with it, because hoi polloi shares your creation with friends, who share with more friends, ad inifinitum.
  • netbook: a small laptop computer designed to be used primarily with the Internet
  • wallet biopsy: the examination of a patient's ability to pay before any medical service is provided
  • wrap rage: the outrage and exasperation of struggling to open an impenetrable blister pack or cardboard box to get at the contents

You can find the announcement and a brief video on the Webster's New World Word of the Year site (which, you guessed it, isn't updated very often).