“Subprime” Voted 2007 Word of the Year
by American Dialect Society
HILTON CHICAGO—JAN. 4—In its 18th annual words of the year vote, the American
Dialect Society voted “subprime” as the word of the year. Subprime is an adjective used to describe a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment. Subprime was also winner of a brand-new 2007 category for real estate words, a category which reflects the preoccupation of the press and public for the past year with a deepening mortgage crisis.
Presiding at the Jan. 4 voting session were ADS Executive Secretary Allan Metcalf of
McMurray College and Professor Wayne Glowka, Dean of Arts and Humanities of Reinhardt
College, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society. Wayne edits the column “Among the New Words” in the society’s quarterly journal American Speech.
“When you have investment companies losing billions of dollars over something like
bundled subprime loans, then you have to consider whether it’s important,” Professor Glowka said. “You probably also want to think about paying off that third mortgage.”
Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year, in the manner of Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
The vote is the longest-running such vote anywhere, the only one not tied to commercial interests, and the word-of-the-year event up to which all others lead. It is fully informed by the members’ expertise in the study of words, but it is far from a solemn occasion. Members in the 118-year-old organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars. In conducting the vote, they act in fun and do not pretend to be officially inducting American
Dialect Society words into the English language. Instead they are highlighting that language change is normal,ongoing, and entertaining.
In a companion vote, sibling organization the American Name Society voted “Betray Us”
as Name of the Year for 2007 in its fourth annual name-of-the-year contest.
AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY VOTE TALLIES
The number after each nomination is the number of votes it received. Numbers separated by slash marks indicate a run-off. Voting totals are for each category might not be identical because the number of voters might have changed for each category.
WORD OF THE YEAR WINNER: subprime, an adjective used to describe a risky or less
than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment. 79
green- prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as in greenwashing. 9.
surge an increase in troops in a war zone. 1
Facebook all parts of speech. 11
waterboarding an interrogation technique in which the subject is immobilized and doused with water to simulate drowning. 1
Googlegänger A person with your name who shows up when you google yourself.
wide stance, to have a To be hypocritical or to express two conflicting points of view. When Senator Larry Craig was arrested in a public restroom and accused of making signals with his foot that police said meant he was in search of a anonymous sex, Craig said it was a misunderstanding and that he just had a wide stance when using the toilet. 2
WINNER: green- prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as in
bacn Impersonal email such as alerts, newsletters, and automated reminders that are nearly as annoying as spam but which one has chosen to receive. 14
celebu- prefix Indicates celebrity, as in celebutard. 13
connectile dysfunction Inability to gain or maintain a connection. 5
wrap rage Anger brought on by the frustration of trying to open a factory-sealed purchase. 39/55
WINNER Googlegänger Person with your name who shows up when you google yourself. 84.
boom An instance of a military explosion in the phrases left of boom, which describes the US military’s efforts to root out insurgents before they do harm, and right of boom, which describes efforts to minimize attacks with better equipment, systems, and medical care. 1
lolcat On the Internet, an odd or funny picture of a cat given a humorous and intentionally ungrammatical caption in large block letters. From LOL + cat. 20.
tapafication The tendency of restaurants to serve food in many small portions, similar to tapas. 4.
WINNER Happy Kwanhanamas! [Kwanza + Hanukka + Christmas] Happy holidays! 63
American Dialect Society: Words of the Year 3.
truther Someone who espouses a conspiracy theory about the events of 9/11. 5.
vegansexual A person who eats no meat, uses no animal-derived goods, and who prefers not to have sex with non-vegans. 35.
WINNER toe-tapper A homosexual. Senator Larry Craig was arrested in June for an encounter in a public restroom in which toe-tapping was said to have been used as a sexual come-on. 70
nappy-headed ho An expression used on the Don Imus radio show, and repeated by the host,about the women’s basketball team at Rutgers University. 27.
make it rain To drop paper money on a crowd of people, especially in strip clubs, nightclubs, or casinos. 2
WINNER human terrain team A group of social scientists employed by the US military to
serve as cultural advisers in Iraq or Afghanistan. 60.
shmashmortion/smushmortion Abortion. 8.
va-j-j Also va-jay-jay or vajayjay The vagina. 30.
—MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED—
WINNER green- prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as in
global weirding An increase in severe or unusual environmental activity often attributed to global warming. This includes freakish weather and new animal migration patterns. 3
Super-Duper Tuesday Feb. 5th, the day 23 US states will hold primary elections. Also known as Tsunami Tuesday. 1
wide stance, to have a To be hypocritical or to express two conflicting points of view. When Senator Larry Craig was arrested in a public restroom and accused of making signals with his foot that police said meant he was in search of a anonymous sex, Craig said it was a misunderstanding and that he just had a wide stance when using the toilet. 13
locavore someone who eats food that is grown or produced locally. Nominated by Dick Bailey.
texter a person who sends text messages. 5.
—LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED—
WINNER strand-in Protest duplicating being stranded inside an airplane on a delayed flight. 31/74.
Billary/Hill-Bill Bill and Hillary Clinton. 1
earmarxist A congressman or senator who adds earmarks—money designated for a particular person or group—to legislation. Coined by the blog Redstate to refer to Democrats. 32/2.
quadriboobage The appearance of having four breasts caused by wearing a brassiere that is too small. 40/19
—NEW CATEGORY: REAL ESTATE/MORTGAGE/LOAN WORDS—
American Dialect Society: Words of the Year 4
WINNER subprime Used to describe a risky or poorly documented loan or mortgage. 65
exploding ARM An Adjustable Rate Mortgage whose rates soon rise beyond a borrower’s ability to pay. 10.
liar’s loan/liar loan Money borrowed from a financial institution under false pretenses,especially in the form of a “stated income” or “no-doc” loan which can permit a borrower to exaggerate income. 1
NINJA No Income, No Job or Assets. A poorly documented loan made to a high-risk borrower.34.
scratch and dent loan A loan or mortgage that has become a risky debt investment, especially one secured with minimal documentation or made by a borrower who has missed payments.