Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

Words of the Year

On Sunday, my third annual words-of-the-year list will run in the “Year in Review” section of the New York Times. It’s hard making these lists: there are always great expressions that aren’t particularly new that I want to include, I always have too many in my first draft—which the Times editors are efficient at whittling down to a manageable size—and I always want to change the list later, when it’s too late, when I realize I left off words that really deserve to be included. They just have to be included, it feels like.

Fortunately, I have a second chance when I make my nominations list for the American Dialect Society’s words-of-the-year vote. This is the vote, the one other organizations are trying to beat by releasing their own WOTY lists in October and November. Look for ADS WOTY nominations to go online in the next week!

However, that’s one less WOTY list than I’ve been making for the last few years, when I was also contributing to Oxford University Press’s annual word-of-the-year press release. Trying to keep all three lists both current, accurate, and with very little overlap was hard indeed.

On a side note, today I did a very pleasant interview with Freestyle on CBC. It was more of a conversation than an interview. I don’t see downloadable or streamable versions of the show, alas.

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Grant Barrett