December 20, 2006

Truthiness wins another one

As boldly predicted here two weeks ago, the Stephen Colbert-ism truthiness followed up its resounding win as Merriam-Webster's 2006 Word of the Year with a similar victory in the competition. Since both of these selections were made by tabulating votes in online surveys, this was an easy call. Fans of "The Colbert Report" have proven their mettle in stuffing online ballot boxes ever since they topped the voting to name a Hungarian bridge. In fact, the top seven entries in the results are all Colbert coinages: following truthiness we find Lincolnish, Wikiality, it-getter, grinchitude, factinista, and superstantial. The press release actually declares that eight of the top ten words derive from Colbert's show, but I'm pretty sure he can't claim credit for #8-#10: love, sex, and defenestrate. (Perhaps they thought Colbert had something to do with defenestrate, but that word clearly has its own zealous fan base.)

The folks behind are none too happy about the Colbertization of their contest, as their press release hilariously makes clear:

"We were surprised by how many of our dictionary users are fans of the moderately popular fake political talk show, which is obviously reflected by the words they nominated," said Brian Kariger, CEO of Lexico Publishing Group. "In light of the evident voting irregularities, we are launching an investigation into our electronic vote counting procedures. Something needs to change before the next Word of the Year is chosen to preserve the dignity of this prestigious annual award."

Honestly, I don't think any number of investigations or procedure changes will subvert the power of the mighty Colbert Nation. Resistance is futile!

[Update: SFGate Culture Blog is having its own WOTY competition, with online visitors voting for one of five finalists: carbon-neutral (already selected as the New Oxford American Dictionary's WOTY), decider, hyphy, sectarian violence, and of course... truthiness. In the poll, truthiness is trouncing the other finalists with about 60% of the total votes. Really, why even bother with a poll?]

Posted by Benjamin Zimmer at December 20, 2006 02:29 PM