2016 word of the year by the American Dialect Society

“Dumpster fire” was chosen as the American Dialect Society’s 2016 word of the year.  To be considered, the word (in this case a phrase) must have become prominent in the past year and must have “reflected public preoccupations,” according to the chair of the selection committee, Ben Zimmer, who also writes the “Word on the Street” column for The Wall Street Journal.

The Dialect Society defines dumpster fire as “an exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation.”  A synonym could be “train wreck.”

2015’s word of the year by this group was “they.”  They?  Yes, they, but with a new meaning, referring to the singular, not the plural.

In 2014 the word was “#blacklivesmatter.”

In 2013 the word was “because.”  That’s right.  Because.  It was chosen because it was being used not to introduce a clause (as in this sentence) but to introduce other grammatical constructions such as nouns.  Because bologna.  Hmm.

In 2012 the word was “hashtag,” in 2011 it was “occupy,” and in 2010 it was “app.”

For more on “dumpster fire” go to the American Dialect Society website (www.AmericanDialetc.org) or to this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal, p. C4.

By the way, did you know the word “dumpster” was coined by the Dempster brothers who invented the dumpster in the 1930’s?  You learn something new every day.

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