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Words of 2014: A Round Up

What do the words ‘vape,’ ‘exposure’ and ‘photobomb’ have in common? Well, they’re the words of 2014 according to the Oxford English Dictionary, Dictionary.com and Collins Dictionary, respectively.

Initially, I felt that ‘vape’ was a seemingly underwhelming word of choice from the esteemed OED, but apparently it was chosen because use of the word has more than doubled in the last year thanks to the recent growing popularity of e-cigarettes. Other words that were beaten to the post by ‘vape’ included ‘contactless’, ‘indyref’, ‘slacktivism’ and *shudder* ‘bae’.

Dictionary.com has given ‘exposure’ the title of word of the year after looking back at the year’s main news stories. ‘There was the Ebola outbreak. There was ISIS. The stakes felt really high, and we wanted to reflect that in our selection,’ said Renae Hurlbutt, Senior Editor of the online dictionary. ‘The word circles around these two themes of visibility and vulnerability, which were at play in all of the top news stories in 2014.’ An event that was highlighted in terms of visibility was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and a story that demonstrated vulnerability was the exposure of Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos.

The word of the year for Collins dictionary has less serious connotations and is much more fun – it’s ‘photobomb.’ Its official definition is recorded as: ‘to intrude into the background of a photograph without the subject’s knowledge.’ The lexicographers at the dictionary said that they chose this word because of how often it has been used in the last year. This was thanks to lots of high profile photobombing going on, including our very own Queen who photobombed two hockey players’ selfie at the Commonwealth Games earlier on in the year:

The Queen wasn’t the only Royal to get in on the act – these New Zealand officials would’ve had had a surprise when they got home to see Prince Harry popping up in the back of their photo:

And just for good measure here’s Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing U2 at the Academy Awards:

Other words Collins has included in the newest edition are ‘al desko’ meaning to have a meal at your desk at work, ‘twerking,’ the dance move made infamous by Miley Cyrus and ‘meme,’ those funny pictures found on Twitter that help me procrastinate. Collins also asked the public via a ‘Twictionary’ campaign to choose a word that would be formally recognised in its 12th edition and the winner was ‘adorkable.’ So, it now has a space in the dictionary with the definition being, ‘socially inept or unfashionable in a charming or endearing way.’ The term was first used on Twitter back in March 2007 and hits its peak in January 2012 after people found characters like Sheldon Cooper and Zooey Deschanel’s Jess Day geeky yet endearing.

Do you think any other words deserved to have won the title instead? Let us know in the comments below!


Edited by Nicole Jones






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A 3rd year English Literature and Language student at the University of Nottingham.
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