After a year dominated by upstarts like “selfie,” “bitcoin” and “twerk,” the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year honor for 2013 has gone to a seemingly old-hat vocabulary item: “because.”

WOTYwordIncreasingly used to introduce a noun or adjective rather than a full clause — as in “because tired” or “because awesome” — “because” won in a landslide at the society’s annual meeting in Minneapolis, garnering 127 of 175 votes, well ahead of the runner-up, “slash” (as in “come and visit slash stay”). It also triumphed in the “most useful” category, ahead of nominees like “struggle bus” (as in, “I’m riding the struggle bus”) and “ACC,” or “aggressive carbon copy,” which refers to using email to undermine the position of the recipient by, say, cc’ing the boss. — NYTimes

While it’s easy to accept that “selfie” and “twerk” were eliminated, it strains credibility to believe that in 2013, “asshat” was overlooked. Or just plain “fuck.” But that’s every year, innit.

This presumes you can get over your initial surprise that (a) there’s such a things as the American Dialect Society, and (2) anybody gives a scabrous syllable.  On the plus side, now that you think about it, aren’t you glad this isn’t called the “Hashtag Award?”

I’ve never used the word “because” the way it’s described here, but I tweet and text at a minimum, and never speak as though I were. Don’t take that as a slap — languages are living creatures subject to adaptation by speakers, and what works for a limited selection today may enjoy wide acceptance tomorrow. Or not. I’ll never use “irregardless” no matter how “accepted” it becomes. And conflating the meanings of “regime” and “regimen” inspires me to break out in hives. But I can see the appeal of “because” used this way.

Meanwhile, this post drives spell-check crazy.

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4 Responses to WOTY

  1. Private Partz says:

    “innit”? Ugh.

  2. Ted End says:

    I don’t get it. I thought “Woty” was word of the year.

  3. Barbara Ganousch says:

    I never noticed regime/regimen before — and then today I read an account of somebody’s “exercise regime.” Now I’ll be on the lookout.

  4. Living Will says:

    Years ago I remember talking to somebody who constantly said he couldn’t “phantom” the thought of something or other. He meant “fathom.” I knew another guy who confused “deluged” with “indulged,” as in, “We’re being indulged by requests for further information.”

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