Karela Fry

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Word of the year

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As the Sensex bounces its way up, Merriam Webster selected a word of the year which definitely looks two years old in India:

Topping the list is austerity, defined as “enforced or extreme economy.” Lookups for austerity peaked dramatically several times throughout the year, as people’s attention was drawn to global economic conditions and the debt crises in Europe, but lookups also remained strong throughout the year, reflecting widespread use of the word in many contexts. “Austerity clearly resonates with many people,” said Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, who monitors online dictionary searches. “We often hear it used in the context of government measures, but we also apply it to our own personal finances and what is sometimes called the new normal.”

“Ebullient” probably describes India if Diwali and preparations for the New Year parties are anything to go by. It comes in 8th on Webster’s list.

Oxford’s American edition gets close with a word that every politician across the globe will want to use:

An unquestionable buzzword in 2010, the word refudiate instantly evokes the name of Sarah Palin, who tweeted her way into a flurry of media activity when she used the word in certain statements posted on Twitter. Critics pounced on Palin, lampooning what they saw as nonsensical vocabulary and speculating on whether she meant “refute” or “repudiate.”

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used “refudiate,” we have concluded that neither “refute” nor “repudiate” seems consistently precise, and that “refudiate” more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of “reject.”

Eyjafjallajökull and vuvuzela were new words of the year, but since September this year the word “scam” is certainly the buzzword of our times. If you want a new-look word, maybe 2G comes close.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

December 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm

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