You might have heard that Merriam-Webster chose "culture" as their word of the year, but those who are obsessed with language may beg to disagree. According to the American Dialect Society, the word for 2014 is actually the popular Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
#BlackLivesMatter became more than just a trending hashtag on social media. It was a movement and a protest chant that started with the case of Trayvon Martin and the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown.
The hashtag was voted the most important word of the year by 226 word nerds that included etymologists, grammarians and language scholars.
"While #blacklivesmatter may not fit the traditional definition of a word, it demonstrates how powerfully a hashtag can convey a succinct social message," said chair of the Society's New Words committee Ben Zimmer. "Language scholars are paying attention to the innovative linguistic force of hashtags, and #blacklivesmatter was certainly a forceful example of this in 2014."
#BlackLivesMatter beat out other popular words such as bae and mandspreading. It is the first time a Twitter hashtag was given the title.
While the hashtag needs little explaining, Merriam-Webster's choice of word does. #BlackLivesMatter will surely be remembered in history; however, Merriam-Webster's choice of "culture" was chosen based on frequent search terms, such as pop culture, celebrity culture and rape culture.
"Culture is a word that we seem to be relying on more and more. It allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group with seriousness," said Peter Sokolowski, Editor-at-Large for Merriam-Webster.
Oxford Dictionary awarded "vape" as their word of the year. Dictonary.com chose "exposure," based off its reference to things like the Ebola outbreak.
#BlackLivesMatter" received 226 votes in the "most notable hashtag" category, beating out #ICantBreathe, another popular slogan and viral hastag related to the protests after the Eric Garner verdict. These were Garner's last words.
Even though the hashtag won for its specific category, its top votes also beat the winners in other categories.
The most useful word went to "even," as in "I can't even," followed by "budtender," a person who serves weed to consumers in legal dispensaries.
The most unnecessary word went to "baeless," meaning to be without a bae or romantic partner whereas the most likely to succeed word was "salty," meaning to be very bitter or upset.
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