Every year at the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, The American Dialect Society holds an open forum to choose the words of the year. On January 8, 2016, the room at the LSA conference center in Washington DC was packed with several hundred people eager to vote on the 2015 words of the year.
Five nominees in each of the nine following categories were determined in advance. At the forum the merits and demerits of the nominees are debated. Then by a show of hands the winners are chosen. If two nominees in the slate of five have close votes, a run-off is necessary.
The 2015 Words of the Year winners are:
- Most useful: they – gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person, as a non-binary identifier
- Most creative: ammosexual – firearm enthusiast
- Most unnecessary: manbun – man’s hairstyle pulled up in a bun
- Most outrageous: fuckboi – derogatory term for a man who behaves objectionably or promiscuously
- Most euphemistic: Netflix and chill – sexual come-on masked as a suggestion to watch Netflix and relax (Note: If your ‘Netflix and chill’ situation works out, then you can ‘Hulu and commit.’)
- Most likely to succeed: ghost (verb) – abruptly end a relationship by cutting off communication in person or online
- Least likely to succeed: sitbit – device that rewards sedentary lifestyle (Some of you may already be wearing a Fitbit. The feeling at The Dialect Society meeting was that a corresponding sitbit device would never be invented.)
- Most notable hashtag: #SayHerName – call to bring attention to police violence against black women
- Most notable emoji: (I’ll let you figure out what eggplant means.)
- In the tenth and final category, The Word of the Year, the nominees are not determined in advance but come from the floor. This year the nominees were:
- Thanks, Obama – used to place facetious blame on Obama for something that isn’t his fault, as in: “My cat died. Thanks, Obama.”
- Ammosexual – already defined
- On fleek – the quality of being perfect or on point, originally used to describe eyebrows
- Ghost (verb) – already defined
- They – already defined
The winner is: they.
Final note: I heard rumors swirling around the floor that cis was going to be nominated, as in cisgendered, the counterpart to transgendered. So, a girl born a girl who grows up to be a woman is a cis woman. This prefix also generates the forms: cissexism, cissexual assumption, and cisnormativity. But it didn’t get nominated in time, and the slate closed at five nominees.
Enjoy using these 2015 Words of the Year!
See also: All My Languages Blogs
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen