Online dictionary lists buzzwords of 2009

Popular slang and phrases can define a time, indicate trends and creatively extend a language. News events that captured our imagination in the year 2009 are reflected in inventive terms which are now posted on a new interactive online dictionary called Wordnik.

Wordnik provides information about English words and the context of usage from various sources, including Twitter feeds, and supplies what is not found in a traditional dictionary. It compiles words that users have added to the site and terms that might become part of the vernacular or vanish as an incident fades from memory. Also, it lists other word-oriented lists, such as words banned in the Irish parliament (buffoon, hypocrite, coward, etc.).

It was founded by lexicographers Erin McKean (a former editor of The New Oxford American Dictionary and author of Weird and Wonderful Words), and editorial director Grant Barrett who edited the Official Dictionary of Unofficial English, and compiled a list of buzzwords for the New York Times, which offers a linguistic look back at 2009.

Here's a sampling:

aporkalypse: Undue worry in response to swine flu. Includes unnecessary acts like removing nonessential kisses from Mexican telenovelas and the mass slaughter of pigs in Egypt.

birther: A person who believes that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore can't be president.

bonus tax: A proposed levy on bonuses given to employees of companies that received government bailout money. Related terms included 'botax,' a proposed levy on cosmetic procedures. It would be used to help pay for health care reform and is a play on 'Botox,' a trade name for a substance used to smooth skin wrinkles. There was also 'cow tax,' what critics call a proposed fee for methane emissions.

car tone: Music or ambient noise proposed for use by electric cars, whose quietness otherwise makes them go unnoticed by pedestrians.

Chimerica: The intertwined economies of China and the United States, which together dominate the world economy. Popularized by Niall Ferguson in his book The Ascent of Money.

conflict minerals: Gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum, widely used in electronic devices and commonly mined in politically unstable countries or regions. Related to conflict diamonds.

drive like a Cullen: To drive like a bat out of hell, like a member of the Cullen family in the Twilight vampire books by Stephenie Meyer.

Government Motors: A nickname for General Motors, which is now majority owned by the US federal government.

Great Recession: A reference to the current economic downturn. Used at least a few times for every recession since 1980, but never with such vigor as now.

green shoots: Signs of an economic recovery or of a company's financial turnaround.

jeggings: jean leggings.

meep: An exclamation used disruptively or nonsensically by young people. Originated by Beaker of The Muppet Show.

mini-Madoff: A person who perpetrates a Ponzi scheme smaller than Bernie Madoff's.

netbook: An inexpensive portable computer, usually smaller than a laptop but larger than a smartphone, intended mainly for use with the Internet.

Octomom: Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to octuplets in January.

orphan books: Volumes still in copyright but out of print and unavailable for sale, and whose copyright holders cannot be found. Rose in 2007 but peaked this year with the fierce discussion over the proposed Google Books settlement.

sexting: The sending of sexual messages or pictures by mobile telephone.

vook: A digital book that includes some video in its text.

warmist: Someone who believes that the earth is jeopardized by becoming warmer. Shortened from global warmist and used mainly by people who are skeptical about global warming.

Ununbium: The temporary name of a newly found element, Uub for short. It comes from the Latin for the element's number, 112.

www.wordnik.com

RC

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003