Overshare is Webster’s New World® Dictionary’s 2008 Word of the Year

(Hoboken, NJ) December 1, 2008 – More than you wanted to know. Those personal, overly-detailed revelations of … (fill in the cringeworthy blank) are really more than you wanted to know. But in an era of online social networking and instant digital broadcasts, this type of unsolicited and often embarrassing communication is an inescapable sign of the times.

Overshare, the 2008 Word of the Year at Webster’s New World® College Dictionary, is the name given to TMI (too much information), whether willingly offered or inadvertently revealed. It is the word for both the tedious minutiae on personal websites and blogs and the accidental slips of the tongue in public (or even private) situations. Both a verb and a noun, note Webster’s New World editors, overshare is a new word for an old habit made astonishingly easy by modern technology. It is yet another product of digital advances that allow people to record and transmit their lives – in words, videos, and graphics – to anyone with Internet access, friend or foe.

So what or who defines an overshare? If oversharing really is “too much information,” how much is too much, and does that make the term necessarily pejorative? Ah, say the editors, Webster’s New World usage citations indicate otherwise. On social networks online, oversharing becomes an art form. Sharing just the right amount of history otherwise deemed too personal can lead to just the right amount of encounters with compatible people. Sociologists weighing in on the subject are split. Some see it as a healthy quest for intimacy in an all-too-impersonal world while others deem it troublingly narcissistic. The debate itself has spawned or highlighted many other new terms like Documentation Generation, Look at Me Generation, co-rumination, and navel-gazing. Blogs, vlogs (video blogs), and online journals provide persistent public display of overshares that can be both artful and alarming.

For other top candidates for Word of the Year at Webster’s New World, visit its website at newworldword.com.

Choosing the Word of the Year is a pleasant exercise that the editors and language researchers (called citation readers) of Webster’s New World look forward to each year. “We survey the emerging English of the past year,” says Editor in Chief Michael Agnes, “and choose one word (or phrase) that captures our imagination – whether with its intrinsic linguistic attributes or by the way it expresses how language reflects changing realities.”

“In most cases,” says Agnes, “the word chosen is a new one and thus hasn’t yet found its way into the dictionary. As we do not try to predict the future of language change in English, the choice does not reflect an opinion that the term will eventually be found in the dictionary. In short, it’s merely one that made us chuckle, think, reflect, or just shake our heads. In any case, it is a product of our language monitoring program, by which we collect examples of emerging new English – to the tune of 2,000 new examples per month. Our citation files now hold approximately 1.9 million such examples.”

Through more than five decades of language research, Webster’s New World lexicographers have created a uniquely modern dictionary that helps you understand and use the language as no other dictionary can. With the most readable, precise, and up-to-date definitions, the dictionary also has reference sections that provide a wealth of information not found in any other college-level dictionary. Included are a full-color atlas of the world, rules of punctuation, geographical tables, and scientific and measurement charts. The rich history of our language is traced with the identification of Americanisms and with detailed etymologies, and the dictionary also boasts higher-quality paper that enhances readability and durability.

Selected by the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other leading newspapers as their official dictionary of choice, Webster’s New World College Dictionary represents the finest linguistic scholarship. For more information on the lexicographical process behind the dictionary, Editor in Chief Mike Agnes is available for interviews.

Webster’s New World® — We Define Your World®

For interviews with Michael Agnes, Editor in Chief, contact:
Adrienne Fontaine
201- 748-5626


2 Responses to “Overshare is Webster’s New World® Dictionary’s 2008 Word of the Year”

  1. […] technique employed by savvy drivers, but a weird fuel-based cult obsessed with aging technology. Webster’s 2008 word, more farsighted to be sure, was oversharing, certainly a symptom of the personal-broadcasting era […]

  2. […] たとえばhypermilingは2008年の言葉で、当時はよく使われたが、今では明らかに廃(すた)れてしまった。電気カーやハイブリッド車が徐々に普及し始めた今、hypermilingという言葉は、当時それが表していたかっこいい省エネ運転技術ではなく、古い技術に固執する狂信的で変人的な燃費向上マニアの意味になっている。コンピュータにたとえると、いまどきWindows 3.1のチューンナップに毎日熱中している変人ギークのようなものだ。これに対してWebsterの2008年の言葉はやや先見の明があって、oversharing*だ。それはわれわれみんなが見て知っている、パーソナルブロードキャスティングの時代を象徴している言葉だ。次位がhypermilingだが、それはoversharingほど長寿ではなかった。〔*: oversharing, 過剰共有, 個人情報の露出しすぎ。「個人が放送局になってしまった」時代。〕 […]

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