Wednesday Words: Readers’ Choice for Banished Word of 2012 and More

NewsFeed's weekly highlight of our vocabulary includes useful, new, hilarious and surprising words (as well as some that are just fun to roll off the old tongue).

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David McGlynn

The forbidden term(s) of 2012: LOL/OMG/WTF

Perhaps it’s this droopy economy that’s got everyone wanting more bang for their buck. Or perhaps readers are just ready for people to say what they mean, rather than abbreviating what they mean. In any case, voters chose this three-fer as what they’d most like to see banished from our lexicon this year. NewsFeed shall now deliver the judgement in the style of Romeo and Juliet (Act III, scene iii):

LOL. OMG. WTF. Come forth, thy fearful terms. Thou art wedded to calamity. I bring thee tidings of the readers’ doom: Banishment! Hence, from our conversations, Facebook posts and Gchats, thou art banished. The world’s exile is death!

And scene.

(POLL: What Word Should Be Banished in 2012?)

Roughly 1,200 voters weighed in, giving LOL/OMG/WTF more than 18% of the vote. In second place was epic, with 15% of the vote, and in third was # [the hashtag]. Meanwhile, the word found least offensive was boss, with not even 3% of the vote.

There were some words that readers wish they would have seen on our poll. Let us take a moment to consider swag, feisty, Kardashian—particularly any combination of that with fake k-words, such as Krazy Kardashian Klaptrap—birther and meh. Unfortunately, it’s too late to offer them up for the chopping block. But we will attempt amends by at least metaphorically spitting in their general direction.

Falsely forsworn swear: bee-yotch

Okay, the story this week was that Jay-Z had forsworn the five-letter version of this word. (We’re trying to keep things PG-13 around here.) But the rapper’s representatives denied that he wrote a poem originally attributed to the him, in which the author explained that a daughter made him rethink the language he uses to refer to the ladies. An excerpt: “I rapped, I flipped it, I sold it, I lived it/ Now with my daughter in this world I curse those that give it.” Apparently, the birth of Blue Ivy Carter-Z has not made Papa-Z reassess. A TIME analysis found that nearly half the rapper’s singles contained the word, so perhaps that shouldn’t surprise us.

Still, even the alleged vow left some unimpressed. “It doesn’t begin to address his role in contributing to and profiting from the global power of a hyper-sexist brand of hip-hop masculinity,” wrote the Guardian‘s Tricia Rose. A tweet from the Roots’ drummer Questlove sheds some light on what Jay-Z’s response to this objection might be. “This just in [from Jay-Z],” he wrote. “‘B*aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatch!!!!!!!! and tweet that.'”

Linguistic band-aid: #altwiki

First off, let’s forgive the use of the hashtag, as this story broke before the results of our very important poll were published.

Today is blackout day for sites like Wikipedia, Reddit and other online giants who oppose an anti-piracy bill winding its way through Congress. As a temporary measure, the Washington Post and other news sites proposed using the tag #altwiki to ask and answer questions on Twitter. The Post explains:

Ask a question on Twitter with the hashtag #altwiki, and we’ll ask our readers to help provide an answer. We’ll answer a few ourselves — and likely blog about that tomorrow.

So in the absence of a crowd-sourced online encyclopedia, the proposal is to use tweets from random people when searching for reliable information. Alternatively, we could use actual, bound, fact-checked encyclopedias for the day. But, of course, where’s the adventure in that?