Merriam-Webster picked the suffix “ism,” but not just any “ism.” The dictionary company named the words that had “earned high traffic spikes and big bumps in lookups on its website, specifically socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism.” In 2014, Merriam-Webster gave the nod to the word “culture.”
Oxford Dictionaries, which last year decreed that “vape” was the most significant Word of the Year, went with an emoji called the “Face with Tears of Joy.” The company noted that the use of the word “emoji” more than tripled in the past year, and the tears image was the most popular emoji worldwide.
Oxford is not the first to give this award to an emoji. Last year, the Global Language Monitor (GLM) named the heart emoji as the most popular “Word” of the Year.
Dictionary.com named “identity” as this year’s word because “over the past year, headlines tied to gender, sexuality and race dominated the news.” Last year the company chose “exposure,” citing “the Ebola virus, widespread theft of personal information, and shocking acts of violence and brutality.”
Understandably, the Society for the German Language chose “refugees” as this year’s Word of the Year. Second place went to “Je suis Charlie,” a phrase that became widespread after January’s attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
The American Dialect Society, which is credited with naming the first Word of the Year in 1991, will announce its choice in 2016. Last year the organization named #blacklivesmatter.