Time for our yearly round-up of words that made the news.

Which vocabulary items captured the essence of our time, and which will survive?

Linguist Daniel Midgley brings you the useful, the outrageous, and the awful on this episode of Talk the Talk.

Listen to this episode

Or subscribe via iTunes
Click here for more options: How to listen to Talk the Talk

Gee, Jess and I were going to talk about words of the year, but the discussion ended up kind of porny. If this keeps up, we’ll soon be doing readings from ‘Delta of Venus’ on air. You’ll see what I mean on the podcast.

Anyway, hashtag was the American Dialect Society’s word of the year for 2012. Does Twitter have a #hashtag hashtag, or is that too meta?

We didn’t have time to go through all the words, but I liked mansplaining: a man’s condescending explanation to a female audience.

Urban Dictionary: To explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticized or even rejected altogether.

“Here, let me explain feminism to you chicks, since I obviously understand it better than you do.”

And then the most likely to succeed: marriage equality. This word is a really good tactical manoeuvre. Gay marriage has gay in it, which not everyone likes. But everyone likes equality. It’s a good move to include unambiguously positive values in the name of the thing.

Show notes

The American Dialect Society has voted, and the word of the year is ‘hashtag’. All the Society’s picks are here:

Ben Zimmer writes about the madness:

Last year’s words have passed away like the leaves of yesteryear.

There were lots of other words, though. The Australian National Dictionary Centre chose green-on-blue.

More about Romnesia


How many goddamn apocalypses have you lived through?

Some people don’t like amazeballs.

Who made this atrocity?

The Oatmeal, on Tesla’s amazeballs brain.

Here’s Lake Superior State University’s 2013 List of Banished Words. I quite like some of the items on this list. Double down is useful.

Show tunes

‘Girl of the Year’ by Stephen Duffy
from the single London Girls

‘New Year’ by Beach House
from the album Bloom