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English Vocabulary Study: 2010 Word of the Year

Categories: News, Vocabulary Building Words, Vocabulary for Success | Tags:

Over the last year, we’ve introduced you to dozens of interesting and useful words, such as propitious and cognizant and lassitude. We’re sure that in your own study and reading you’ve come across many more that you’ve added to your working vocabulary, giving you even more resources and skill to interact with your co-workers, clients, and supervisors, and improving your ability to read and comprehend texts and documents at all levels of difficulty.

Perhaps there’s one word that you particularly remember seeing in many places, or one that struck you as extremely useful. The editors at Merriam-Webster tagged austerity as their 2010 Word of the Year, based on the number of times their on-line users looked up the word. With all of the economic downturns around the world, it’s not surprising that this word appeared in many publications, arousing readers’ curiosity. Austerity is a noun that refers to strictly curtailed spending, on an individual or governmental basis, where money is only spent on things that are absolutely necessary. The related word austere is an adjective meaning “severe, stark, plain,” giving you an idea of the sort of budget and lifestyle an austerity program might produce.

The New Oxford American Dictionary editors chose refudiate as their 2010 Word of the Year, although many other language-oriented organizations don’t even recognize this as a real word. However, like many English words, this blend of refute (to disprove) and repudiate (to disown or reject) may in time become a standard dictionary entry. After all, brunch and simulcast and retrofit are now all commonly accepted as English words; each of them also began as a new blend of old words, gradually working its way into the English language.

The American Dialect Society will announce their 2010 Word of the Year in early January. Some early entries include skyaking (skydiving while in a kayak – really! – the goal of course being a water landing), fracking (using a technique called hydraulic fracturing to mine natural gas), and hashtag (a topic marker used on Twitter, e.g. #ultimatevocab).

What’s your 2010 Word of the Year?