American Dialect Society names ‘Occupy’ word of the year for 2011

By Eric W. Dolan
Sunday, January 8, 2012 15:09 EDT
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The American Dialect Society, an organization dedicated to the study of language in North America, has named “Occupy” its word of the year for 2011 following the proliferation of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

“It’s a very old word, but over the course of just a few months it took on another life and moved in new and unexpected directions, thanks to a national and global movement,” Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, said. “The movement itself was powered by the word.”

Beginning September 17, the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters pledged to remain Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan until something was done about the consolidation of economic and political power. The protest inspired others across the nation to begin their own “Occupy” demonstrations.

The acronym FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) received the second most votes to be word of the year at the American Dialect Society conference. Another “Occupy Wall Street” related phrase, “the 99 percent” received the third most votes.

And the group noted a number of other words associated with the “Occupy” movement.

The word “assholocracy” — referring to rule by obnoxious multi-millionaires — was recognized as the most outrageous word. The phrase “job creator” — referring to a member the top one-percent of moneymakers — was voted as the most euphemistic word.

In December, Time magazine named “The Protester” as the person of the year for 2011 in tribute to those participating the “Arab Spring” as well as anti-corporate greed demonstrations in the U.S. and Europe.

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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