11 Word of the Year Candidates That Didn't Catch On

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To the dismay of many people with swag, "GIF" edged out "YOLO" to become the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. (In the UK, the top word was "omnishambles.") Other shortlisted terms include "nomophobia," or cellphone separation anxiety (no+mobile+phobia), and "MOOC," an acronym for "massive online open course," or a free online university course. Of these, GIF may be the most viable, but hindsight tells us that Word of the Year candidates have not always fared so well. Here are 11 examples.

1. Moofer

Mobile out-of-office workers earned their own noun in 2008, when "moofer" was a candidate for the Oxford American Dictionary (OAD) Word of the Year. The suggested verb form? Moofing, as in "I won't be at the meeting Thursday, I'm moofing from Starbucks."

2. Deleb

Voted 2009's "Novelty Word," a deleb is a dead celebrity. It was listed by OAD alongside the arguably more useful "tramp stamp."

3. Googlegänger

Lots of people have a Googlegänger. That's the person with your name who shows up in search results when you google yourself. ("Google" as a verb was recognized as 2002's "Most Useful Word" by the American Dialect Society.)

4. Mellencamp

A woman who is too old to be a cougar can be called a mellencamp, thanks to 2011's ADS "Most Outrageous" Word of the Year, inspired by singer John Cougar Mellencamp's multiple name changes.

5. Sardoodledom

This selection from Merriam–Webster's Word of the Year list in 2004 is a one-word noun which describes a stage play with an overly dramatic or morally objectionable plot, derived from the name of French dramatist Victorien Sardou.

6. Infobahn

Just as the autobahns are Germany's coordinated federal expressway system, the infobahn is the information superhighway (the winner in 1993). The term was voted 1994's "Most Promising" Word of the Year by the ADS.

7. Blamestorm

Another M-W pick from 2004, blamestorm describes a meeting or discussion held for the sole purpose of assigning blame for a failure.

8. Pecksniffian

From Charles Dickens' character Seth Pecksniff, a pecksniffian is a person who hypocritically affects a high moral standing or practices pecksniffery, the universally irritating art of being sanctimonious. "Pecksniffian" and its derivatives were chosen by Merriam–Webster as one of 2007's Words of the Year.

9. Heaven-o

Because 80% of "hello" is from H-E-double-hockey-sticks. The entirely useless "heaven-o" was elected "Most Unnecessary" by ADS in 1997, never to be mentioned again (until now).

10. Flog

"Flog" has been a verb meaning "to beat or to whip" since the 17th century, but in 2006 it was a runner-up in the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year list as a noun: fake+blog, or a website that appears to be real but is actually just a form of marketing or advertisement for a company.

11. Carrotmob

A carrotmob is the opposite of a boycott: A group of people gather to support a business by descending upon it en masse and shopping there all at the same time. The word was one of those shortlisted by Oxford Dictionaries in 2008; it comes from the name of the website used for organizing such things.

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November 13, 2012 - 7:11am
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