‘Twerk’ Is Officially the Word You Want Banished in 2014

Don't let the door hit your prominent behind on the way out

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Andrew H. Walker / WireImage

The people have spoken. More than 2,000 cast votes in TIME’s 2013 word banishment poll, an annual ritual in which we ask our readers to decide which term they would like to banish from everyone’s vocabularies forevermore. And the decided winner is twerk, a word that handily beat out 14 other contenders to be crowned The Thing You Never Want to Hear Again.

The term describes a hip-thrusting dance infamously performed by Miley Cyrus this summer and joins winners from the past two years: YOLO and OMG/WTF/LOL. Twerk has the proud distinction of being both the first verb and the first non-acronym to really, really get under people’s skin. That word also earned the biggest chunk of votes in the poll’s history; at nearly 27%, twerk topped the 22% who cast ballots for YOLO last year.

Here are the runners-up:

  • In second place is hashtag at 13%. We made it clear that this is a vote for the word, not the symbol, particularly when used to faux-label live, face-to-face conversation.
  • In third place is selfie at 8%. Selfie was much buzzed about as Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year, a choice that led to some what-is-society-coming-to criticism.
  • In fourth place is swagger at over 7%. An early favorite going into the poll, the worn-out term describing coolness just didn’t have the votes for proper banishment. Epic failpreshlolz and awesome sauce all won between 6% and 7% of the vote.

In short, twerk crushed it.

Twerk also seems to be a different kind of winner than previous champions, embodying a different kind of angst. YOLO and the other acronyms are disliked as overused, vapid words—the kinds of things that bros or valley girls might yell when jumping off a pier or when seeing someone jump off a pier. (Admittedly, they’d have to be pretty cold-hearted to say “LOL!”) The word twerk isn’t used the same way in day-to-day living. It’s not something that people are interjecting into casual yakking at the water cooler or in Gchat. All you need is an element of surprise to utter “WTF,” but you need a much more specific set of circumstances to require the word twerk.

That disparity suggests that what people really want to banish is the act of twerking and the over-reporting of everything twerk-related. And there is at least a little evidence to back that analysis up. In TIME’s poll description, we presented the frustration with twerk thusly: “You can’t un-see that clip of Miley Cyrus, but everyone can stop talking about a ‘dance’ that symbolizes the shallow horrors of modern pop culture.”

Regardless of why people cast their votes as they did, the result remains the same: twerk is hereby banished in 2014! While we can’t promise that the world will leave the beaten-to-death fad behind in 2013 where it belongs, we can at least promise that you won’t see that word in this column again. Thanks for voting, and bring your inner curmudgeon back next year.

This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a weekly feature on language. For the previous post, click here

22 comments
soulmansaul
soulmansaul

'un-see' is not in the dictionary.

'non-acronym' is not in the dictionary.

'faux-label' is not in the dictionary. (unless you are mixing French)

This author is kind of racist too. She said, "the kinds of things that bros yell."

This author is extremely ignorant , arrogant, and believes to be above other

peoples' intellect.

soulmansaul
soulmansaul

There's nothing wrong with the new words like twerk, yolo, lol, and it seems more like the author of this article is resisting change. This author is afraid of learning new words, and it's a natural part of life having new words added to the dictionary. 

lucasmpayne
lucasmpayne

Im a half African American half White 35 year old man born and bred Chicagoan. Now I don't expect all my white friends to be up on Hip Hop culture but "twerk" and "tweaking" have been around for at least 20 years in the house and hip hop community and usually refers to a woman "Popping her hips" on the dance floor. Its a shame that an oversexed Miley Cyrus first introduced White America to this word and even more a shame that something that has been in hip hop/house culture for 20 years is a new word. I guess it just shows we have a lot more to learn about each other, not that twerking represents the highest of culture, but White friends your really sound utterly clueless when you trot this out as new.

majones729
majones729

Really!!!  These are the are the words people want banished?  I'm a white male teacher teaching inner city kids in Chicago, 99% of the student body are AA.  The word that should be banished from the face of the Earth is the "N" word.  It is racist, horrific, and derogatory.  I have seen that word tossed around like it has not meaning. 

Who gives a crap about "Selfie", "Hastag", or "Twerk"?  I didn't even know those words existed until recently.  They just need to be toned down because of their sudden overexposure.  Words that need to be banished need to be controversial.  Something who's action enhances society.  The "N" word has been used for over 400 years as a word of suppression, to say the very least.  So, this organization needs to get real. 

CourtneyKGibson
CourtneyKGibson

I can say selfie, ooh killem, and vine should be banned in 2014

FrankGulla
FrankGulla

Ummmm...What kind of people are you hanging around with who use these words so much that it becomes annoying ? Not me , that's for sure .

AshesGreen
AshesGreen

I think most hear the word and are immediately reminded of said Miley Cyrus causing them to want to stick sharp objects into their eyes. Delete the word delete the need for self-mutilation

JlnFrancisco
JlnFrancisco

Good. Now people who actually know what twerking is and enjoy it don't have to see you culture stealing whites pissing all over it just to sell a few albums.

JRZGRL1
JRZGRL1

Best news I've heard in a good while. Seriously.

Deekay
Deekay

I would have voted for "awesome"...though "awesome sauce"  - which has never been more than snort worthy - at least made the list.  The word is so overused that I've come to hate it.

immargarita
immargarita

Not a word, but I'm fed up of, "I'm just sayin'!"  Instant eye-roll!

diss1
diss1

"everyone can stop talking about a ‘dance’ that symbolizes the shallow horrors of modern pop culture."


what century are you writing from?!

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Katy. But if we ban THAT word, what will Miley Cyrus do to once again be a TIME's Person of the Year finalist (next year)? I fear she'll do something even worse than just shaking her booty to music.

35cranker
35cranker

@JlnFrancisco agreed! White people only know about it know because of miley. a clueless bunch of people. the y stole rock, jazz, R&B

Deekay
Deekay

@immargarita Me too.  "I'm gonna rip your lungs out, Jack!  Just sayin"........