Webster’s New World® Candidates for Word of the Year 2008

(HOBOKEN, NJ) November 3, 2008 — Choosing the Word of the Year is an 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. 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.”

The Word of the Year will be selected by editors and researchers at Webster’s New World, and announced by Agnes during a national radio satellite tour on December 1. In promotion of the announcement, NewWorldWord.com, a new website devoted to Word of the Year, will launch on November 17. The website will feature a poll that invites visitors to choose their favorite word from the following five contenders:

  • leisure sickness: a purported syndrome, not universally recognized by psychologists, by which some people (typically characterized as workaholics) are more likely to report
    feeling ill during weekends and vacations than when working.
  • overshare: to divulge excessive personal information, as in a blog or broadcast
    interview, prompting reactions ranging from alarmed discomfort to approval
  • cyberchondriac: a hypochondriac who imagines that he or she has a particular disease based on medical information gleaned from the Internet
  • selective ignorance: the practice of selectively ignoring distracting, irrelevant, or otherwise unnecessary information received, such as e-mails, news reports, etc.
  • youthanasia: “ … the controversial practice of performing a battery of age-defying
    medical procedures to end lifeless skin and wrinkles; advocated by some as a last-resort measure to put the chronically youth-obsessed out of their misery…Think of it as mercy lifting.” —Armand Limnander, New York Times

NewWorldWord.com will also include informal etymologies, examples of usage, video illustrations, and information on the selection process.

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

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