January 04, 2008

ADS Word of the Year: Subprime

Greetings from Chicago, where the American Dialect Society has just held its annual Word of the Year voting. And the winner for 2007 is... subprime, an adjective much in the news this past year to describe risky loans to unqualified borrowers. It has already been used in an extended sense to refer to the "subprime crisis" in the housing sector, and it could very well spawn other extensions as the crisis worsens. (One recent article claims that it is being used as a fanciful verb, as in "I subprimed my algebra test," but I haven't come across any evidence of that in the wild.)

Among the winners in other categories: the prefix and combining form green- (as in greenwashing) won for both "most useful" and "most likely to succeed," Googlegänger won for "most creative," toe-tapper won for "most outrageous," and human terrain team won for "most euphemistic." Read all about it on the ADS website here.

Posted by Benjamin Zimmer at January 4, 2008 08:49 PM