American Dialect Society Names Subprime 2007's Word of the Year

Posted on January 23, 2008

The BBC reports that "Subprime" has been voted the word of the year for 2007 by linguists of the American Dialect Society. Most people are now familiar with the word that is at least partially responsible for sinking stocks this year.

The society says it just charts words or phrases that have become prominent in a particular year, and is not telling people how to speak.

"Subprime" means literally "less than ideal" and is the technical term used to describe loans - especially mortgages - made to borrowers with poor credit histories.

A series of defaults on such loans spread panic through much of the banking sector in 2007 as financial institutions realised they had bought many of these loans from one another without knowing how risky they were.

Some of the other interesting words used in 2007 included:
  • water-boarding - a form of interrogation involving simulated drowning
  • Facebook - a popular social networking website.
  • Googleganger - a person thrown up by a Google search on your name, but who is not you
  • Ninja - a poorly documented loan made to a high-risk borrower - someone with No Income, No Job or Assets
  • Wrap rage - anger brought on by the inability to open a factory-sealed package
  • Tapafication - the tendency of restaurants to serve food in many small portions, like tapas.

    The American Dialect Society is not the only word-of-the-year selector. Earlier this year Merriam-Webster named w00t it's word of the year.



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