w00t’s Up!

If that headline looks like a typo to you, you may be dating yourself.

Believe it or not, that “word’ (w00t) has been picked as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year – even though it isn’t (yet) in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The term (it hardly seems fitting to call it a “word’, but Merriam-Webster terms it an interjection) finds its origins in online gaming forums. It’s one of those online acronyms (not surprisingly, since it was chosen by visitors to Merriam-Webster’s website – stands for “we owned the other team.’ Owned, in this case, meaning overpowered/beat/defeated soundly, not “owned’ in the George Steinbrenner sense. Supposedly Julia Roberts uttered w00t in the movie “Pretty Woman’ cheering at polo game (who knew? I thought she was imitating a train).
And yes, one might well expect that the acronym would more precisely be presented as woot – but in the online world, the double “o” in the word is instead usually represented by double zeroes. Gamers frequently substitute numbers and symbols for the letters they resemble, resulting in what is called “l33t speak” — that’s “leet” when spoken, short for “elite” to the rest of the world.

As for using w00t in a sentence (properly) – just insert it where you might normally say “yay.’ As in, “w00t! I won the Word of the Year contest!’

As for the rest of the list:

  • Facebook – though not necessarily as a noun referencing the social networking website of the same name. Think verb – as in “Have you facebooked those photos from the party last weekend?’, or “Did you facebook today?’ or to look up someone’s profile on Facebook (“I facebooked Sarah the other day…’)
  • Blamestorming – think brainstorming with a more “sinister’ purpose; sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
Last year’s word of the year was truthiness – and, true to form, a fair number of the remaining selections for the current seem equally apropos for the current political “season.’
  • conundrum
  • quixotic
  • apathetic
  • hypocrite
  • charlatan
And maybe it’s just me – but two of the choices were just plain weird:
  • Pecksniffian (an adjective meaning unctuously hypocritical. It’s etymology harkens back to Seth Pecksniff, a character in Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–44) by Charles Dickens.
  • Sardoodledom (that one you can look up yourself)
    Previous words of the year are available online at http://www.m-w.com/info/07words_prev.htm