The Top New Words of 2010

What is a vuvuzela, anyways?

By Beth Stebner
|  Sunday, Nov 14, 2010  |  Updated 3:15 PM PDT
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The Top New Words of 2010

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Words like "vuvuzela" and "Obamania" were popular words of 2010.

Remember when "truthiness" wasn't a word?  Or "d'oh"?  Thanks to pop culture, politicians who malapropate, and, in those cases, Stephen Colbert and Homer Simpson, these words are now part of American Culture.  The 2010 list of words has been released, and everything from "vuvuzela" to "grass-roots" makes an appearance.

A survey based in Texas used a mathematic method to calculate what words English-speakers uttered the most, from a pool of around a billion and a half people reports Reuters.

“Vuvuzela” refers to the bright plastic horns that became wildly popular during this summer’s World Cup championship in South Africa, and “Obamania,” according to Urban Dictionary, is defined as the national obsession with the current President. It’s been on the list for the past two years.

Many of the words’ origins are fairly obvious—words like “Spillcam” and “Chilean Coal Miners” have been plucked from the news, referring to the video stream of the BP oil spill in the Gulf this summer, and the miners in Santiago, Chile who were trapped underground for more than two months. Everyone from the fashion industry to comedy writers have acknowledged these events. The August cover of Vogue Italia, for instance, featured models coated in oil and became quite the controversy.

Sarah Palin also made a significant contribution. “Refudiate,” the hybrid word cocktail of repudiate and refute, made the top ten most popular new words.

“Our top words this year come from an environmental disaster, the World Cup, political malapropisms, news sense to ancient words, a booming economic colossus and a heroic rescue that captivated the world for days on end,” the president of the Global Language Monitor JJ Payack said.

Other big words included Lady Gaga, 3-D (thanks to big-budget movies like “Avatar”), and the guidos and guidettes of the Jersey Shore, the fist pumping, alarmingly tanned set that have the famous montra of "GTL -- gym, tan, laundry."

Selected Reading: Reuters, Times, Twitter


 

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