Thursday, December 4, 2014

Word of the Year 2014

Each year various bodies, mostly dictionary publishers, announce their word of the year, being the most important words or expressions in the English language over the past year. There are various criteria used in assessment and evaluation, including usefulness, popularity, extent of usage and so on. The words do not have to be new, just come to prominence in the last 12 months. Most of the dictionaries select words from words newly added to their dictionaries.

Here are the 2014 Word of the Year selections by the Oxford English Dictionary and Collins English Dictionary. . .

Oxford English Dictionary:

Word of the Year: Vape

Meaning:   The act of drawing on an electronic cigarette


The judges cited the increasing use of the word as the reason for selection, such increased use being attributed to wider use of the e-cigarette and the debates as to possible long term harmful effects. 

By the way:

The “smoke” from an e-cigarette is not smoke, it is aerosol spray

The 2013 OED Word of the Year was “selfie”, the taking of a photograph of oneself, usually with a smartphone.

“Vape” beat a short list of other words, most of which I have not heard before and/or which did not impress me all that much . . .


Used as a term of endearment for one’s romantic partner.


A person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.


Relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc. to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment.


An abbreviation of ‘independence referendum’, in reference to the referendum on Scottish independence, held in Scotland on 18 September 2014, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’


A trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.


Informal actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website; a blend of slacker and activism.

Collins English Dictionary

Word of the Year: 



 To intrude into the background of a photograph without the subject’s knowledge.


The judges commented that:

“The first recording of the word is in 2008 as the subject of a Google search and it gained wider use in 2012 when a number of photographs exhibiting the phenomenon went viral on the web. 
This year saw an unprecedented level of high-profile photobombing, most notable were Jennifer Lawrence photobombing Taylor Swift at the Golden Globes in January, Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing U2 at the Oscars, and the Queen, who unwittingly photobombed members of the Australian hockey team at the Commonwealth Games. Her grandsons took a more direct approach with Prince William photobombing Sir Chris Hoy and Prince Harry photobombing the New Zealand rugby coach.”

The rest of the photobombs mentioned above:

The rest of the Collins’ Shortlist:


The dating app Tinder matches users in their local area, who swipe right to like a profile and left to reject it.


A baking competition.


See above

A trend in fashion emphasizing the practical and/or ordinary.

Devo Max

An arrangement in which a central government transfers the maximum amount of authority to a regional government while still retaining sovereignty over it.

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