‘Word of the Year’ Has Nothing on These 5 Words

dictionaryWith the cacophony of "end of the year" lists we're currently being bombarded with, I almost forgot about one of the more important, less vapid ones: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. This year's winner? "Pragmatic," an adjective which means "practical and logical." Editors of the lexicon chose the word based on the frequency with which it was looked up, particularly before August’s debt ceiling vote and during the congressional supercommittee’s meetings. John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam's, said of the word: "Pragmatic' is a word that describes a kind of quality that people value in themselves but also look for in others, and look for in policymakers and the activities of people around them."

Fair enough. But does it deserve the coveted Word of the Year title? Did it really capture the spirit of the 2011, or zeitgeist (which, incidentally, didn't make the list)? Weren't these five words a little more ... zeitgeisty?


Royal. Speaking as a blogger, and as a person who spends an unsettling amount of time online, I have never typed or read the word "royal" as much as I have in 2011. And like everything else on this crazy marble called Earth, we have Kate Middleton and Prince William to thank for that.

Occupy. The majority of articles and blog posts that I've read on the Word of the Year feel that "occupy" was robbed. And I have to agree. For the past few months, "occupy," be it coupled with "New York," "Los Angeles," or even "Harvard," has been on everybody's lips and Google searches. The word still has a chance to leave 2011 with some accolades, though. “Occupy” is being considered among the front-runners for the American Dialect Society’s 2011 Word of the Year, which, from what I understand, is the equivalent to a "SAG" award.

Divorce. The year of the wedding, save for the royal one, 2011 was not. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries; JLo and Marc Anthony; Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher; Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Getting a divorce was hot this year. Almost as hot as occupying places.

Doomsday. It's kind of a silly word, and one I can't dissociate from the oft-skipped comic in Sunday's papers, but for a hot minute there, "doomsday" was all the rage. Google Trends was blowing up with the word for about a month, thanks to human caricature Harold Camping. And it's like, come on, guys, Camping should at least get something this year.

Winning. I loathed this word the entire time it was in the linguistic limelight, but I can't deny the fact that it was popular due to the Charlie Sheen crazy train. Duh.

I'm actually sort of glad the word "pragmatic" was chosen, though. Now that I give it some thought, it says a lot about our nation. We aren't all a bunch of pop-culture-devouring, low-brow blog-reading buffoons. We're pragmatic. And we know that "zeitgeisty" isn't a word.

What do you think the Word of the Year should have been?


Image via crdotx/Flickr

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