It’s an annual tradition for the big names in the dictionary community to look over the newest and more notable words of the previous year and decide on what they believe were the most significant.
2015 did not disappoint. Amidst popular nominations like “deflategate” and “dadbod”, the community took a fast and loose approach to choosing their”word” of the year. 2015 official choices include a rising gender neutral pronoun, a suffix, and…yes… an emoji.
“In 2015, Dictionary.com saw a number of themes emerge in the words that gained enough traction to be added to the dictionary along with words that trended in user lookups. The most prominent theme across both of these areas was in the expanding and increasingly fluid nature of conversations about gender and sexuality. Additionally, the theme of racial identity led to some of the most notable headlines and new additions to Dictionary.com this year.
Encapsulating the most robust fields of language evolution and user interest this year, Dictionary.com’s 2015 Word of the Year is identity.”- Dictionary.com
Vocabulary.com & American Dialect Society
“One intriguing choice has emerged among language scholars: they used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. While they has filled the gap for centuries when speakers and writers have needed a third-person singular pronoun that does not specify gender, this year it has taken on new prominence.” –Vocabulary.com
“The use of singular they builds on centuries of usage, appearing in the work of writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. In 2015, singular they was embraced by the Washington Post style guide. Bill Walsh, copy editor for the Post, described it as “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.” While editors have increasingly moved to accepting singular they when used in a generic fashion, voters in the Word of the Year proceedings singled out its newer usage as an identifier for someone who may identify as “non-binary” in gender terms.” –American Dialect Society
Want to see more of the ADS nominations? Check them out here.
“A suffix is the Word of the Year because a small group of words that share this three-letter ending triggered both high volume and significant year-over-year increase in lookups at Merriam-Webster.com. Taken together, these seven words represent millions of individual dictionary lookups.” –Merriam-Webster
The Oxford Dictionary
“That’s right – for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a pictograph: , officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, though you may know it by other names. Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.
This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.” –Oxford Dictionaries
“‘Binge-watch’ (To watch a large number of television programmes, especially all the shows from one series, in succession) has been named Collins Word of the Year 2015 thanks to a dramatic increase in usage.” –Collins
Around the World
Want some more WOTY’s? All of the above were English choices, so here are some other selections from various languages and countries around the world.
New Zealand: Public Address
Quax: to shop, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit.
Australia: Australian National Dictionary Centre
sharing economy : an economic system based on sharing of access to goods, resources, and services, typically by means of the Internet’
South Africa: LitNet Journal
#: The word of the year is the hashtag symbol.
China: Chinese National Language Monitoring and Research Center
Japan: Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation
The kanji for “an”: safety or security
Spain: Fundación del Español Urgente & Portugal: Porta Editora
Smombie: A teenage who is too engrossed in their phone to pay attention to where they are going as they are walking down the street
Interesting Note: Entities in Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Denmark all had a variation of “refugee” as their Word of the Year.
Want more? The Oxford University Press put together an amazing list of more 2015 nominations and choices. Check it out here.