Is the Word of the Year Usable?

On the road to becoming a novelist, I encountered a number of obstacles.  Among them:

  • I like to latch onto new, often lengthy, words, look them up, and then put them on my “to be used in my next chapter” list.
  • I am habitually “wordy” (maybe “nerdy”?) with a weakness for passive voice, repetition, and anachronisms (if you need to look that up – be my guest) inappropriately wedged into my stories from earlier eras.
  • Years ago, in my college public speaking class, I recall being disturbed to hear the professor cautioning those of us who thrived on sesquipedalian words when speaking in public, to limit our text materials to words used by someone teaching fifth grade.

Imagine my discombobulation last week to learn that Oxford Dictionaries has at last selected the word of the year for 2014:

Vape

This little gem, which can be used as either a noun or a verb, succinctly arrived on the scene with the advent of electronic cigarettes. It evolved as a way to distinguish e-cigs from the tobacco variety. So now you can save yourself several characters on Twitter if you want to chat about your last visit to the vape shop.

scrabble

And what other wannabes in the new word department were contenders? Some of my favorites:

  • Bae – a noun used as a term of endearment
  • Budtender – another noun describing a person employed in a cannabis shop
  • Indyref – a third noun designed to help us define a referendum on Scottish independence
  • Slacktivism –( my favorite) an emerging noun for those enthused supporters of some social cause who, via the internet, show support without having to expend much effort other than electronically signing a petition or joining a campaign group.

So now when I sit down to write and find myself struggling to find the perfect fit for a new sentence, I can simply manufacture a word and hope that it passes muster with my beta readers and Twitter followers and wait for next year’s Word of the Year Award.


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