Hashtag Declared 2012 Word of the Year
These days it seems like everyone goes around declaring the “word of the year,” but the tradition began with the American Dialect Society, which met last night in Boston for its 23rd annual Word of the Year vote. It’s a spirited event, where the members of the society—a group of linguists, lexicographers, and other professional language scholars—argue for their choices.
The American Dialect Society has selected its Word of the Year for 2012, and the winner was a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t fiscal cliff, the ubiquitous term in the news from Capitol Hill. And it wasn’t YOLO, the youthful acronym for “You Only Live Once” that quickly rose (and just as quickly fell) this past year. No, the ultimate champion was that mainstay of the Twittersphere, hashtag.
A hashtag is a convention used on Twitter to organize conversations, mark topics, or make witty commentary, created by appending a word or phrase with the hash symbol (#) preceding it.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.
This isn’t the first time an Internet term has gotten the nod: “Tweet” was declared word of the year by the group in 2010, while “Google” was then-named the word of the decade. In a nod to the worldwide Occupy movements, the group declared “Occupy” to be last year’s word of the year.