2012 Words Of The Year Include ‘Fiscal Cliff’ And ‘Gangnam Style’

Author: December 24, 2012 8:31 am
Angelina Jolie shows a little leg at the Oscars

Angelina Jolie launched the “legbomb” meme. Image from Stuff.NZ.com.

Every year CollinsDictionary.com chooses words that were popular in the past 12 months to include in their dictionary. This year they decided to choose one word for each month. Words were submitted by the public to the online dictionary, and 7400 of them ended up on the website. According to the frequency, breadth and period of use, a word can be either published on the website, added to the print dictionary or rejected. This year’s list reflects an interesting year, reflecting the year’s top news stories and events.

January‘s word was “Broga,” a portmanteau of “bro” and “yoga” which was formed to hype a new kind of yoga for men. It didn’t survive much past that month and likely will not find its way into the print dictionary, though it was published online.

In February, the month that saw the Oscar ceremony, the word was “legbomb.” This refers to Angelina Jolie and her pose for photographers with one leg peeking out of her side-slit dress. She also spawned a meme and several parodies.

March saw Europe all abuzz with “Eurogeddon” as economic woes got worse in the Eurozone. The media was in a tizzy as a second bailout package was readied for Greece. The Guardian’s Tim Garton Ash was the first to use this word.


The book 50 Shades Of Grey, which premiered in April, gave us “mummy porn.” In this case, “mummy” refers to Moms – in Britain, known as “Mummy” – and thus we have a new name for porn written especially to appeal to women.

The ill-fated launch of Facebook’s initial public offering in May brought “zuckered” to the lexicon. Meaning “to be taken advantage of in a business deal,” it refers specifically to the fail of said IPO and the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. It was rejected for publication, however, the final insult to all those poor people who bought shares.

June brought both the Summer Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to England, both summed up in “Jubilympics.” This one is under review and I have to hope they publish it because it’s my favorite of the bunch.

Speaking of England, Mitt Romney’s disastrous July visit to that country, stupid remarks and all, gave birth to “Romneyshambles.” This is a perfect description of the serial gaffes of the former Presidential candidate. Unfortunately, it was rejected for publication.

Also Olympic-themed, in August we got “Games Makers” to describe the thousands of volunteers who helped pull off the successful London games. It is under review, requiring more evidence of use.

The infamous speech in which Mitt Romney gave his opinion on Obama voters gives us the word for September, “47 percent.” Romney was secretly taped at a fundraiser disparaging voters whom he saw as dependent on the government and wouldn’t ever vote for him. The video went viral and was likely a factor in the outcome of the election.

In late October we saw Superstorm Sandy, which devastated parts of the Eastern seaboard and Caribbean. The new word, which can be a noun or adjective, “superstorm” was probably the only good thing to come out of the whole mess. The word is a candidate for publication in the print dictionary.

The Korean singer PSY gave us “Gangnam Style” for good or ill. His video got millions of hits on You Tube in November. It spawned many spoofs and found mention in many parts of pop culture. How on earth this is a candidate for publication and Jubilympics is only under consideration?

In the final month of the year we have heard “fiscal cliff” so much that we are probably ready to jump off of one. But it was chosen as the word for December and as a candidate for publication. As much as it has been used, it definitely should be included in the print version, in my humble, word-loving opinion.

Every year has its trends, fads and things-everyone-talks-about. The Collins website celebrates that and tries to capture as many words about them as possible. If you want to get involved in next year’s list of words, you can learn more about the process and submit your own words. For next year, I’d like to be able to submit “Obamanate: to use one’s mandate to get things done.”

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