• Jim Parks

A decade of words.

Time Magazine puts a ‘Person of the Year’ on its cover. ESPN awards ESPYs to athletes annually. Nobel and Ig Nobel committees recognize the worthy and the unsuspecting. Merriam Webster selects a ‘Word of the Year.’ It is the word dictionary users searched for more than they had in previous years. Here are the words of the year from the last decade:

2010: Austerity, noun, “The quality or state of being austere, a stern and serious quality, a plain and simple quality.”

2011: Pragmatic, adjective, “Relating to matters of fact or practical affairs often to the exclusion of intellectual or artistic matters: practical as opposed to idealistic.”

2012: Socialism, noun, “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods,” tied with Capitalism.

Capitalism, noun, “An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.”

2013: Science, noun, “The state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.”

2014: Culture, noun, “The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group, also the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.”

2015: -ism, noun suffix, “Manner of action or behavior characteristic of a (specified) person or thing, or prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a (specified) attribute.” (The most looked up words were socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism, and terrorism.)

2016: Surreal, adjective, “Marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.”

2017: Feminism, noun, “The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests.”

2018: Justice, noun, “The maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.”

2019: They, pronoun, “Those ones: those people, animals, or things.” The definition was expanded to, “Used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.”

The short-list of words for 2019 included: quid pro quo, impeach, crawdad, egregious, clemency, the, snitty, tergiversation (“evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement”), camp, and exculpate.