Word-of-the-year season is upon us! Last week, Oxford Dictionaries’ editors announced post-truth as their word of the year, but they weren’t the first. The editors at Collins Dictionaries posted their top ten words of the year on Thursday, November 3.
Collins being a British dictionary, its choices might seem surprising or downright foreign to some Americans, as their choices lean toward the social and geopolitical situation in the UK.
- Brexit: Taking the top spot, this portmanteau of British + exit refers to the UK’s pullout from the European Union. The full effects of Brexit are as yet unknown — the withdrawal is still under way — but if predictions hold true, 2017’s word of the year could be breenter or broh my god we made a horrible bristake!
- hygge: Pronounced “HOO-guh,” hygge is a word of Scandinavian origin that refers to the practice of promoting well-being by creating cozy atmospheres and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. This is one of those terms (like feng shui) that does not have a direct English equivalent and so enters our lexicon unchanged. I had never heard the word hygge until I saw it on this list, possibly because I don’t shop at Ikea, but possibly because it’s more popular in Great Britain, which is 4,000 miles closer to the word’s source.
- mic drop: The mic drop has been around for years — whether with an actual mic or simply the gesture — but its use has been on the rise and in more visible places. The theatrical gesture of dropping a handheld microphone signifies both the end of a presentation and the idea that the presenter has said the last word that can be said. President Obama even ended his final White House Correspondents’ Dinner with one.
- Trumpism: This one is all-American. It refers to the sometimes outrageous policy and social statements made by now-President-Elect Donald Trump, especially those refuting the current political establishment and advocating pursuit of American national interests above all else. Normally, I’d put a joke here about Russian dictionary editors influencing the WOTY selection, or that Trumpism could have been at the top of the list if not for the millions of illegal votes for Brexit, but I just don’t have the heart for it.
- throw shade: The use of shade to mean contempt or disdain arose within the black and Latino gay communities and found its way into the larger culture through the movie Paris Is Burning, a 1990 documentary about drag queens in New York City. Throwing shade, then, is publicly showing contempt for someone, often subtly or nonverbally. It’s a hipper way of “giving someone the hairy eyeball.”
- sharenting: Overshare hit WOTY lists in both 2008 and 2014. Sharenting is a specific type of oversharing: the habitual social media sharing of pictures of one’s children and all the brilliant things they do. Like smiling at a cat.
- snowflake generation: This is a derogatory term for the young adults of the 2010s, who are viewed as being fragile and more prone to taking offense than previous generations. The snowflake concept comes not only from fragility but also from the idea that these children have been raised to believe that they are, like snowflakes, each unique and special, and that, by extension, each of their experiences is unique and special.
- dude food: Dude food refers to food that is considered appealing to men — that is, junk food, pizza, red meat, and beer. Though the term has nothing good to say about the average man’s outlook on healthy eating, a quick look at my own diet leaves me little ground to argue from. It’s also a fairly loosely defined term, with some possible loopholes. For example, is pizza still a dude food if it’s eaten with a knife and fork?
- Uberization: A lexical outgrowth of the expansion of Uber, Uberization is the adoption of a business model that connects consumers and suppliers directly and on demand, usually through mobile technology. It is a growing type of decorporatization, and much more fun to say than decorporatization.
- JOMO: The flip side of FOMO — fear of missing out — is JOMO — joy of missing out. It’s the very hygge idea of enjoying what one is doing in the moment (such as reading this column) instead of worrying that other people are having more fun doing something else.