Thursday, January 14, 2016

Merriam-Webster Word-of-the-Year Announced: Is it a Word?

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog! I'm J.Q. Rose. J is for Janet, Q is a nod to my maiden name, and Rose because I love roses. I also love words. So I combined all this into making my author pen name, J.Q. Rose, for writing.

I, a wordsmith woman, could not believe the Word-of-the-Year chosen by Merriam-Webster.  They recently announced the most popular word of the year was, are you ready for this, "-ism." Say what? I looked down my nose at the choice of a suffix as a word. sniff sniff, In my mind, I reprimanded the person who wrote the article, Lori Borgman in The Tampa Tribune, for such heresy. Then I reminded myself, Ms. Borgman was reporting the news and that word was news to me!
Courtesy of Photo by Stuart Miles
I immediately went to to get some fodder to reply to such nonsense. -ism is not a word. Can't you picture a young sixth-grader vying for the win in his regional spelling bee? When the judge tells him the word to spell is "ism" could he ask the judge to use it in a sentence? How would you use it in a sentence? All I can think of is "Ism is not a word." 

If the contestant asked for a definition, here's how ism is defined in
1.a distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice:
This is the age of isms."

Noun? You can imagine my astonishment when I saw it was defined as a legitimate noun. 

Ms Borgman goes on to explain Merriam-Webster chooses the word of the year by keeping charts noting the highs and lows of a word's popularity at their website, The most frequently checked words for definitions were socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism. 

I still disagree with the choice since, yes, there are a lot of isms in the words that are looked up, but ism is a part of a word, people. 

How do you feel about the choice of ism as the word of the year?  Do you agree? Can you use ism in a sentence???

This Week:

Tuesday, January 19--Delighted to host author Anna Simpson on her book blog tour for her latest release, White Light. 


Anonymous said...

I didn't know "ism" was a word, either, JQ. What an interesting post! I love the way language changes and evolves. To be honest, I don't mind if ism has become a word. Language belongs to the people that use it, and if that's what people are saying, then why not? I love seeing how language changes. Thanks so much for sharing. I wonder what the next word of the year will be?

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Helena, Glad you enjoyed the post. I imagine next year the word of the year will a prefix? dis, un, pre?

Shannon Lawrence said...

I'm with you. What a stupid choice. If those were the most searched words, one of them should have been the word of the year.

Jeffrey Scott said...

Declaring ism a 'word' is an example of ridiculousism. Wait! That isn't a word? Well, it should be.
But on the brighter side, at least they didn't go with the word '-ish'.
I can see that one on the horizon.

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