Language and Humor

UK and Australian English Words of the Year (WOTY)

These are new words and words in the news in the UK and in Australia since 2006. They’re often related to technology. See also American English Word of the Year.

Click on a year in the table below to jump to more information and some also-rans.

Summary of Winners
Year / SourceOxford Dictionaries UK (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
Australian National Dictionary Centre (archive)
2014vape / to vape[Expected February 2015][Expected December 2014]
2013selfieinfovorebitcoin
2012omnishamblesphantom vibration syndromegreen-on-blue
2011squeezed middleBurqini
2010big societygoogleganger
2009simplesshovel-ready
2008credit crunchtoxic debt
2007footprintpod slurping
2006bovveredmuffin top
2005sudoku
2004chav
2014 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries Joint WOTY (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
Australian National Dictionary Centre (archive)
WOTYto vape / vape
to use a nicotine e-cigarette [electronic cigarette] (also applied to marijuana use) / attributive noun for compounds like vape shop (clipping of vaporize or vapor / vapour)
[Expected February 2015][Expected December 2014]
Also-Ransbudtender
a salesperson at a marijuana dispensary (blend of [marijuana] bud and bartender)
[Expected February 2015][Expected December 2014]
slacktivism
easy online effort for a cause, such as retweeting on Twitter, changing one’s profile photo to a relevant one, or signing an online petition (blend of slacker and activism)
[Expected February 2015][Expected December 2014]
2013 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries Joint WOTY (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
Australian National Dictionary Centre (archive)
WOTYselfie
self-portrait photo, often taken with a cellphone and posted to websites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
infovore
person who hungrily seeks and consumes information, especially instantly via smartphone or other Internet-connected devices (blend of information and -vore as in carnivore / herbivore / omnivore; note the 2006 use of a human-trait sense of infovore in Irving Biederman and Edward A. Vessel, “Perceptual pleasure and the brain: A novel theory explains why the brain craves information and seeks it through the senses,” American Scientist 94, no. 3 (May–June 2006): 247–253. [PDF, with different pagination, via Biederman or Vessel])
bitcoin
name of an online currency and payment system, begun in 2009, which is decentralized, peer-to-peer, and encrypted, used for both commerce and currency speculation (compound of bit [blend of binary and digit, with a play on “bit of information”] and coin)
Also-Ransbedroom tax
pejorative term for the under-occupancy penalty of the UK’s Welfare Reform Act of 2012, in which as of April 1, 2013, the social-security housing benefit would be reduced for renters in subsidized housing with a spare bedroom
cli-fi
speculative-fiction genre dealing with future societies living with global climate change (blend of climate and fiction; based on the word sci-fi)
FOMO
anxiety from trying to keep up with what everyone is sharing and discussing on social-media sites (acronym for Fear of Missing Out)
showrooming
checking out products at a physical store (in its showroom) and perhaps asking questions of the staff in order to decide what to buy online for a lower price (due to purely online retailers not having the costs of stores and sales staff)
to firescape
to landscape in a fire-preventive way (blend of fire and to landscape)
snapchat
name of a smartphone app and messaging service for sharing photos and ten-second videos and added text and drawings that are supposed to vanish within one to ten seconds of viewing them (from both the recipient and the company’s servers), leading to concerns of the sharing of sexual content
2012 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries UK (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
Australian National Dictionary Centre (archive)
WOTYomnishambles
a situation that is a complete mess due to multiple missteps; from the British political satire TV show The Thick of It (derived forms)
phantom vibration syndrome
obsessive condition in which one incorrectly thinks one’s cellphone / mobile phone is vibrating for an incoming call
green-on-blue
partner Afghan security forces attacking North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan (derived from green-uniformed Afghan security forces and blue-uniformed NATO forces or from standard use on military maps of blue for friendly forces, red for enemy forces, and green for neutral forces)
Also-Ransgreen-on-blue
partner Afghan security forces attacking North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan (derived from green-uniformed Afghan security forces and blue-uniformed NATO forces or from standard use on military maps of blue for friendly forces, red for enemy forces, and green for neutral forces)
crowdfunding
getting money for a project or social cause from public donations usually in small individual sums via the Internet
fourth age
people aged 85 and older, the fastest-growing age demographic in Australia (coming after third age, retired from work but active, second age, working adulthood, and first age, dependent childhood and adolescence)
second screening
watching TV while online, often to post about the show on the second (Internet browser) screen (e.g., live tweeting a show via Twitter)
First World problem
used for a complaint by someone in the developed world that sounds petty when compared to the struggles of those in the developing world, thus shaming another utterer or recognizing the absurdity of one’s own complaint
qubit
unit of information in quantum computing, which can be 0 or 1 like a computer bit but also both 0 and 1 due to quantum superposition (existing in all possible states simultaneously until observed or measured); from the publication of an article on qubit research on September 19, 2012, in the journal Nature about how a team led by researchers from Australia’s University of New South Wales had written the spin state of a single electron after successfully reading a spin state several years earlier [more on the qubit research] (blend of quantum and bit [itself a blend of binary and digit, with a play on “bit of information”])
2011 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries Joint WOTY (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
WOTYsqueezed middle
the middle class, who neither receive government assistance nor are wealthy enough to easily pay taxes; from British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband
Burqini
swimsuit for Muslim women, with hood, tunic, and leggings (Trademark, blend of burqa and bikini)
Also-RansArab Spring
Spring 2010 protests and revolutions in various Arab countries, including the ousting of leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya (term based on 1968 Prague Spring)
announceable
government press release for good public relations (PR) or to distract from bad PR
occupy
from Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements in Autumn 2010 to protest the political influence of corporations and the superrich
patchwork economy
trade system with prosperous and unprosperous regions
2010 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries UK (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
WOTYbig society
community and volunteer responsibility for a large amount of services
googleganger
someone with the same name as another, discovered via Google Internet search (blend of Google and doppelgänger)
Also-Ransclickjacking
using (literally) transparent or misleading clickable content to gain private information or computer control while the users think they’re clicking for something else (blend of click and hijacking)
shockumentary
documentary with sensationalized violence (similar to fiction exploitation films) or sensationalized attacks on institutions (as used in tabloid journalism) (blend of shock and documentary)
upcycling
recycling that creates items of more value than the originals (blend of up and recycling)
vuvuzela
South African long and extremely loud plastic horn used by soccer fans; from their prominence at the 2010 FIFA World Cup
2009 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries UK (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
WOTYsimples
from the 2009 catchphrase of Aleksandr Orlov, the CGI, Russian-accented meerkat on TV commercials of the Compare the Meerkat campaign for price-comparison website Comparethemarket.com
shovel-ready
easily started re: infrastructure projects
Also-Rans[Unknown]cyberbully
online harassment or harasser
[Unknown]heritage media
old media, traditional media, newspapers / television / etc. seen as losing power to the new media of the Internet (online video, blogs, etc.)
2008 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries UK (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
WOTYcredit crunch
difficulty getting a loan, as after the history of bad loans that came to light in the Global Financial Crisis of 2007)
toxic debt
financial debt that turns out to be worthless or of little value to the lender, one cause of the Global Financial Crisis of 2007
Also-Ransgoogleability
how easily one can find something on the Google search engine, both businesses that want to be found and personal information one doesn’t want to be found (also googlability, blend of Google and ability)
bromance
heterosexual loving relationship between close male friends (blend of bro [clipping of brother, as in ‘buddy’] and romance)
scuppie
young working adult who cares about societal problems / doing good (partial acronym for Socially Conscious Upwardly-mobile Person or Socially Conscious Urban Professional, in contrast to the 1980s’ wealth-focused yuppie [Young Urban Professional, sometimes given as Young Upwardly mobile Professional], itself in contrast to the 1960s’ socially conscious yippie [Youth International Party], inspired by hippie [hip, as in ‘up to date’])
flashpacker
low-frills traveler who still has some conveniences such as high-tech gadgets (blend of flash[y] and backpacker)
2007 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries UK (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
WOTYfootprint
environmental impact of fossil fuels (as in carbon footprint or environmental footprint)
pod slurping
wrongful downloading of large amounts of data from an unattended computer to an iPod or USB flash drive (based on iPod)
Also-Rans[Unknown]carbon footprint
environmental impact of fossil fuels
[Unknown]infomania
information overload and inattentiveness, such as the constant need to check E-mail and text messages (blend of info [clipping of information] and -mania, seemingly influenced by the near rhyme nymphomania)
2006 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries UK (archive)Australia:
Macquarie Dictionary (archive)
WOTYbovvered
from the catchphrase “Am I bovvered?” (‘Do I care?’) from the ill-mannered teen character Lauren by comedian Catherine Tate on The Catherine Tate Show (Estuary English dialect [of South East England] pronunciation of bothered)
muffin top
bulge of midriff fat accentuated by tight pants / trousers or skirt
Also-Ransofflish
business buzzwords and jargon (blend of office and English)
administrivia
dull details involved in administration (blend of administration and trivia)
yeppie
youth who are uncommitted to anything (partial acronym for Young Experimenting Perfection-seeker, influenced by yuppie [Young Urban Professional, sometimes given as Young Upwardly mobile Professional], itself based on yippie [Youth International Party], inspired by hippie [hip, as in ‘up to date’])
affluenza
feeling unfulfilled by the pursuit of wealth for happiness (blend of affluence and influenza)
2005 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries UK (archive)
WOTYsudoku
puzzle with a three-by-three grid made of nine smaller three-by-three grids which only allows each of the numerals from 1 to 9 to exist once per subgrid and once per horizontal and vertical line in the larger grid (from Japanese suudoku 数独, abbreviation of suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru 数字は独身に限る ‘the numerals are confined to being unmarried’)
Also-Rans[Unknown]
2004 Word of the Year
Rank / SourceOxford Dictionaries Joint WOTY (archive)
WOTYchav
derogatory term for obnoxious, lower-class British youth who wear real or fake designer clothes (probably derived from the Romany word chavo ‘boy, youth’ or chavvy ‘baby, child’)
Also-Rans[Unknown]