January 8th, 2012
12:19 AM ET

Linguists name 'occupy' as 2011's word of the year

The linguists have spoken and they have decided - "Occupy" is 2011's word of the year.

Members of the American Dialect Society came out in record numbers to vote Friday night at the organization's annual conference, held this year in Portland, Oregon.

"Occupy" won a runoff vote by a whopping majority, earning more votes than "FOMO" (an acronym for "Fear of Missing Out," describing anxiety over being inundated by the information on social media) and "the 99%," (those held to be at a financial or political disadvantage to the top moneymakers, the one-percenters).

Occupy joins previous year's winners, "app," "tweet," and "bailout."

"It's a very old word, but over the course of just a few months it took on another life and moved in new and unexpected directions, thanks to a national and global movement," Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee for the American Dialect Society, said in a statement.

The Occupy Wall Street movement began in September in Lower Manhattan, before spreading to communities around the country and the world as a call to action against unequal distribution of wealth and other issues.

Founded in 1889, the American Dialect Society is made up of "academics, linguists, anyone involved in the specialization of language," according to Grant Barrett, the society's vice president.

Barrett, who also co-hosts "A Way with Words," a public radio program about language, said the annual conference provides an opportunity for linguistics professionals and graduate students to share information and research.

But Barrett says the word of the year vote, now in its 22nd year is, "light-hearted and whimsical."

Nominations for the word of the year are submitted by society members in attendance at the annual conference, but can also be submitted by the community at large.

"Occupy" may have taken top honors, but several other words and phrases received recognition.

"Mellencamp," a woman who has aged out of being a "cougar" (after John Cougar Mellencamp), and "kardash," a unit of measurement consisting of 72 days, after the short-lived marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, were both recognized in the "Most Creative" category.

Barrett said many of the nominated words that have significance now likely won't stand the test of time.

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Filed under: U.S. • World
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. hamsta

    by the way i have never in my life worked fast food.the only minumum wage job ive ever worked was 3 months security detail between jobs.if ur stuck at mcdonalds it must be cuz ur completely useless.last year i made $55000 as a crane mechanic and operator.did i mention im a high school dropout?

    January 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hamsta

    never worked fast food in my life.i am an ase certified master auto tech,deisel mechanic,welder and fitter,residential construction,industrial construction,computer technician,machinist just to name a few of my skills.if ur stuck at mcdonalds its just cuz ur useless.did i mention im a high school dropout?

    January 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hamsta

    its funny how the useless eggheads start a national movement when they have to deal with realities that the blue collar worker has been dealing with for 60 yrs.all the blue collar workers are laughing at u sissy white collar eggheads.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. patriotny

    Well this group does not deserve their own "word". The occupy movement has no positive motives only negative. At best they promote slacking and sloth, at worst violence, and anarchy. The riots in Oakland this weekend are an example of the later. read more about i here http://thetruthaboutows.wordpress.com/

    January 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PortlandCaregiverArtistStudent

    Its about opportunities people are given in life, you were lucky, most people are not. It makes me sad that there are so many close minded people in the world unwilling to use their brains and research what is actually happening in the world. Don't give in to what the media and rich are selling you, read between the lines, research history, learn, and change the world. The US Census Bureau online gives people the right to look up statistical data on income, among other things. Resources are available to you, so research before being discriminant and hurt full about things so can't begin to imagine.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
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