Top Words of 2010

Spillcam is the Top Word, Anger and Rage the Top Phrase

and Chinese Leader Hu Jintao the Top Name

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AUSTIN, Texas November 27, 2010 (Updated) – The Global Language Monitor has announced that Spillcam is the Top Word, Anger and Rage the Top Phrase and Chinese Leader Hu Jintao the Top Name of 2010 in its annual global survey of the English language.  Spillcam was followed by Vuvuzela, the Narrative, Refudiate, and Guido.  Deficit, Snowmageddon, 3-D, Shellacking and Simplexity rounded out the Top 10.

“Our top words this year come from an environmental disaster, the World Cup, political malapropisms, new senses to ancient words, a booming economic colossus, and a heroic rescue that captivated the world for days on end.  This is fitting for a relentlessly growing global language that is being taken up by thousands of new speakers each and every day,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor.

The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers.

Methodology: The Global Language Monitor’s WOTY was conceived in 1999 as a way to create a cultural record of the year as reflected in the world’s current global language, English.  Previous efforts were decided by small groups of academics or lexicographers; our idea was to reflect the words used by the world’s 1.5 billion English Speakers.

Accordingly, GLM monitors million of web pages on the Internet, Blogosphere, and social media in addition to over 80,000 print and electronic media sites.  In this way we search for words that are the most relevant to various aspects of culture, such as world events (the rise of China, the South Asian Tsunami), politics (the election of Obama to the US Presidency), prominent deaths (Pope John Paul II, Michael Jackson), war and terror (Iraq, Afghanistan and the  Terrorist Attacks on the US and London), film (Jai Ho!, Brokeback), sports (Beijing Olympics, South African World Cup), and the like. We then use our analytical engine to determine the number of citations for the words, their prominence, how quickly they are rising or falling in use, and the geographic breadth and depth (various forms of publication) of their use.

To immediately download an in-depth presentation of GLM’s algorithmic-based methodology, fill out the form on the upper left corner of this page.

To listen to “What’s My Word,” a game show developed by Austin’s NPR flagship station, KUT,to help review the top words for 2010, click here.

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For the Top Words of the Decade (2000-2009), go here.

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The Top Words of 2010

Rank / Word / Comments


1.  Spillcam — The BP Spillcam instantly beamed the immensity of the Gulf Spill around the world to the dismay of environmentalists, BP’s PR staff and the President.

2.  Vuvuzela — Brightly colored plastic horns that first came to prominence at the South African World Cup.

3.  The Narrative – Though used at least since The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845,  ‘The Narrative’ has recently been gaining traction in the political arena, virtually replacing the need for a party’s platform.  (Cf. to ‘truthily’.)

4.  Refudiate — Conflation of “refute” and “repudiate” (un)officially coined by Sarah Palin.

5.   Guido and Guidette — Hey! All things Jersey are hot, capish? (Actually, capisci in standard Italian.)

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Listen to Tracking 2010′s Most-Used Words, Names And Phrases

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6.   Deficit – A growing and possibly intractable problem for the economies of most of the developed world.

7.  Snowmagedden (and ‘Snowpocalypse’) — Portmanteau words linking ‘snow’ with ‘apocalypse’ and  ‘armageddon’, used to describe the record snowfalls in the US East Coast and Northern Europe last winter.

8.  3-D – Three-dimensional (as in movies) is buffo box office this year, but 3-D is being used in new ways generally describing ‘robustness’ in products (such as toothpaste).

9.  Shellacking – President Obama’s description of the ‘old-fashioned thumpin’ in George W. Bush’s words, that Democrats received in the 2010 US Mid-term elections.

10.  Simplexity – The paradox of simplifying complex ideas in order to make them easier to understand, the process of which only adds to their complexity.

Also Noted: (Spoken Only) Twenty-ten: Finally, a common way to refer to the year; Obamacare (noted as one of the Top Political Buzzwords).

The Top Phrases of 2010

Rank / Phrase / Comments


1.  Anger and Rage – Characterizations of the US electorate by the pundits, though closer analyses has revealed more frustration and disappointment.  Also witnessed in France, Spain and Greece.

2.  Climate Change – (and Global Warming) No. 1 Phrase for the first decade of the 21st century; starts out second decade at No. 2.

3.  The Great Recession – The media term frequently used to describe the on-going global economic restructuring.

4.  Teachable Moment – Turning any undesirable outcome into a positive opportunity by using it as an object lesson. Unfortunately, there were a plethora of teachable moments in the first year of the new decade.

5.  Tea Party — An emerging political movement in the US that has upset the balance of power in the US Congress.

6.  Ambush Marketing – Cashing in at an event by taking on the appearance of a sponsor of the event.  Most obviously displayed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and South Africa’s World Cup 2010.

7.  Lady Gaga — Gaga, herself, became a buzzword in the global entertainment industry in 2010.

8.  Man Up – This election cycle’s signature retort from the women running for office to their male opponents.

9.  Pass the bill to be able to see what’s in it — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s now infamous quip underlying the complexity of the Healthcare Reform legislation.

10.  Obamamania — Notable only in it fall from grace; Obamamania now ranks at the bottom of this year’s political buzzwords.

Also Noted — Don’t Touch My Junk: One reaction to the TSA new search policies.

The Top Names of 2009

Rank / Name / Comments


1.  Hu – President Hu Jintao, paramount leader of China.  Rise of China was the No. 1 Story of the 1st decade of the 21st century; now Hu begins the second decade in the top spot.

2.  IPad – With over eight million sold in a matter of months, the IPad is now a name on everybody’s lips.  (Sorry, Steve Jobs, the IPads tests better than you.)

3.  Barack Obama — President of the United States has had a tough sophomore year.

4.  Chilean Coal Miners – The ordeal and heroic rescue is perhaps the top inspirational story of the year.

5.  Eyjafjallajoekull – Does a name that no one can pronounce deserve a spot on a top name’s list?

6.  Nancy Pelosi – Speaker of the US House of Representatives, presided over the passing of the healthcare reform bill and the decimation of her party in the Mid-term elections.

7.  Sarkozy – Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa, the current French president, is attempting to re-define what it means to be citizen of the Republic.

8.  Tea Party – Leaderless movement in US political circles, the center of much of the angst in the electorate.

9.  Jersey Shore – Not quite the Cote d’Azure, The Shore, as the locals call it, is now known as a breeding ground for guidos and guidettes.

10.  David Cameron and Nick Clegg – The leaders of the UK’s new coalition government.

Also Noted — Kate Middleton, recently engaged to Prince William.

Top Words of the Decade:

The Top Words of the Decade were Global Warming, 9/11, and Obama outdistance Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed.

Climate Change  was top phrase; Heroes was top name.

Previous Words of the Year include:

2009:

Top Words:  No. 1 Twitter, No. 2 Obama-, No. 3 H1N1

Top Phrases: No. 1 King of Pop, No. 2 Obama-mania, No. 3 Climate Change

Top Names:  No. 1 Obama, No. 2 Michael Jackson, No. 3 Mobama

2008:

Top Words: No. 1 Change, No. 2 Bailout, No. 3 Obama-mania

Top Phrases:  No. 1 Financial Tsunami, No. 2 Global Warming, No. 3 “Yes, We Can!”

Top Names:  No. 1 Barack Obama, No. 2 George W. Bush, No.3 Michael Phelps

 

2007:

Top Words:  No. 1 Hybrid (representing all things green),  No. 2: Surge

Top Phrase: Climate Change

Top Name: Al Gore

2006:

Top Word: Sustainable

Top Phrase: Stay the Course

Top Name: Dafur

2005:

Top Words:  No. 1, Refugee No. 2: Tsunami No. 3: Katrina

Top Phrase: Outside the Mainstream

Top Name: (acts of ) God


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Listen to Top Words 2010 and how they reflect the year

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2004:

Top Word: Incivility (for inCivil War)

Top Phrase: Red States/Blue States No. 2: Rush to War

Top Name: Dubya/Rove

2003:

Top Word: Embedded

Top Phrase:  Shock and Awe,  No. 2: Rush to War

Top Name: Saddam Hussein,  No. 2 Dubya

2002:

Top Word: Misunderestimate

Top Phrase:  Threat Fatigue

Top Name: W (Dubya)

2001:

Top Word: Ground Zero

Top Phrase: ‘Lets Roll’

Top Name:  The Heros

2000:

Top Word:  Chad

Top Phrase:  Dot.com

Top Name: W (Dubya)

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