Youâ€™ve Just Been Plutoed
Saturday, January 20, 2007
"The decider" was at the same time the second Most Unnecesary word and the fifth Most Likely to Succeed
to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International
Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet.
Yup, it’s official. If you eat in that burger joint every day to save some money, you are plutoing your eating habits. Whenever your landlord kicks you out after you spent all the money you had previously saved in beer, he’s going to pluto you. And if, as a result of all of this, you flounder badly in your fourth year seminar, your GPA, your grad school application, and your life in general, are all going to be plutoed.
The American Dialect Society (ADS) has chosen “to pluto/be plutoed” as their Word of the Year 2006. The ADS is a 117-year-old organization dedicated to the study of English in North America. It has a membership comprised mainly of academics, students and language amateurs. While their decisions do not formally affect North American English, their Word of the Year awards (which include categories such as Most Useful, Most Creative, and Most Outrageous) attract quite a crowd of curious onlookers. The ADS gained continental recognition in early 2006, when they chose “truthiness” as their Word of the Year 2005. The ADS was subsequently (and shamelessly) featured in Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, the show that coined the term.
Among other 2006 nominees, “climate canary” (a species whose declining numbers herald a larger climate catastrophe) won Most Useful word. “Fed-Ex”, the new nickname of Mr. Britney Spears, was an undeserved runner-up in the Most Creative category, while “Cambodian accessory,” a reference to Angelina Jolie’s adoptive son, won the Most Outrageous award, after beating “tramp stamp” (lower back tattoo).
While the ADS has put its stamp of approval on many breakthrough terms (such as “blog,” “podcast,” “phish,” or, more than a decade ago, “soccer mom” and “www”), it has had its fair share of bombing: “flexitarian” was chosen the Most Useful word of the year 2003, as did “second-hand speech” in 2001, while “Infobahn” was proclaimed the word Most Promising word of 1994. The fact that you had to google those to see what they mean is a testament to both the failures and successes of the ADS Word of the Year awards - the verb “to google” was chosen the Most Useful word in 2002.