Did you think that 2017 was a big year for feminism? Or that 2016 was surreal? Did you use the laugh-crying emoji a lot in 2015? Well, if so, dictionaries took note. Every year, multiple dictionaries and several English-language-based organizations name a word of the year. Check out this timeline for some of the most interesting words of the year since 1999.
The American Dialect Society names a word of the decade, century, and millenium. The word of the decade is web, just in time for the ten-year anniversary of the world-wide web. The word of the century is jazz. The word of the millennium is she, narrowly beating out science. “Before the year 1000, there was no she in English; just heo, which singular females had to share with plurals of all genders because it meant they as well,” explained the American Dialect Society. “In the twelfth century, however, she appeared, and she has been with us ever since.”
The American Dialect Society names plutoed, meaning demoted or devalued, its word of the year. RIP to the former smallest planet in our solar system.
Merriam-Webster names bailout its word of the year after then-president Obama bailed out the banks responsible for the 2008 recession.
The American Dialect Society names occupy its word of the year. On September 17 that year, the Occupy Wall Street movement began to protest economic inequality.
The American Dialect Society names singular they its word of the year, both because of its use in the LGBTQ community and its increasing usage to refer to a person of unknown gender.
In a shocking move nobody expected, the Oxford English Dictionary names the laugh-crying emoji its word of the year, challenging the popular conception of what counts as a word.
Merriam Webster names surreal its word of the year. Lookups for the word spiked after Brexit and the 2016 American presidential election.
The Oxford English Dictionary names youthquake, meaning “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people” its word of the year after a five-fold increase in the word’s use over the year. The word spiked first after the UK general election. The word has become even more relevant since, as the #neveragain movement has been led almost exclusively by high school students.
In the wake of the #metoo movement and the women's march, Merriam Webster names feminism its word of the year.