Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year goes up in a puff of smoke

Despite its support from world leaders like US President Barack Obama and India’s Narenda Modi,  “shirt fronting” did not make it to the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2014. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used the expression, which in Aussie Rules means a front-on challenge that knocks an opponent to the ground,  to refer to upcoming his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recent G20 conference in Brisbane. It was a head-line stealer.

Instead, and in a bit of a sad commentary on what’s important in life and language,  the winner is vape, that is, the verb to Inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device, and the noun an electronic cigarette or similar device; an act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.

Judy Pearsall, Editorial Director for Oxford Dictionaries, explained the decision: ‘As vaping has gone mainstream, with celebrities from Lindsay Lohan to Barry Manilow giving it a go, and with growing public debate on the public dangers and the need for regulation, so the language usage of the word ‘vape’ and related terms in 2014 has shown a marked increase.’’

Wow. That really sends the literary soul soaring.

The shortlist for the award was:

baenoun: Used as a term of endearment for one’s romantic partner.

budtendernoun: A person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.

contactlessadjective: Relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc. to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment.

indyrefnoun: The referendum on Scottish independence, held in Scotland on 18 September 2014, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

normcorenoun: A trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.

slacktivismnoun, informal: Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.

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