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‘Because’ is 2013 word of the year

The American Dialect Society voted 'because' word of the year for 2013, beating out 'Obamacare,' 'slash,' 'selfie,' and 'twerk.'

By Bruna LobatoContributor / January 9, 2014

The word ‘because’ has 'exploded with new grammatical possibilities in informal online use,' says an officer of the American Dialect Society. Now one can simply text, 'I am not going to the party "because tired.” '

Ben Margot/AP


The American Dialect Society has chosen “because” as the word of the year for 2013. The word received 127 of 175 votes by members of the 125-year-old organization during the 24th Annual Words of The Year vote, which took place in Minneapolis. According to the organization, the word has evolved. "’Because’ is now being used in new ways to introduce a noun, adjective, or other part of speech," the selection committee explained.

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"This past year, the very old word 'because' exploded with new grammatical possibilities in informal online use," linguist and New Words Committee chair Ben Zimmer said. "No longer does 'because' have to be followed by 'of' or a full clause. Now one often sees tersely worded rationales like 'because science' or 'because reasons.' You might not go to a party 'because tired.' As one supporter put it, 'because' should be the Word of the Year 'because useful!'"

Obamacare” placed second with 39 votes. The organization said the term used to have a pejorative connotation, but that is now used as a matter-of-fact shorthand for the Affordable Care Act. “Slash” won 21 votes, placing second. The word is commonly used in place of “and/or” or the conjunction “so,” as seen in “come and visit slash stay” and “I love that place, slash can we go there?”

The term “selfie” made third place with 20 votes, and was described as “a photo taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone and shared on social media.” “Twerk,” defined as “a mode of dance that involves vigorous booty-shaking and booty-thrusting, usually with the feet planted” placed last with only 7 votes.

“Because” also won the “most useful” category, beating “slash,” “selfie,” “struggle bus,” and “ACC.” The organization of grammarians, linguists, lexicographers, and etymologists voted “catfish” as the most creative word of the year, which means “to misrepresent oneself online, especially as part of a romantic deception.”

The organization announced that they believe the word most likely to succeed is “binge-watch,” “to consume vast quantities of a single show or series of visual entertainment in one sitting.” The least likely to succeed is “Thanksgivukkah,” since the convergence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah had not happened since 1888, and it will not happen again for another 70,000 years.

This year’s vote also included a new category for “most productive” words. The winner was the suffix “-shaming” with 98 of 132 votes. The term is used in the sense of “fat-shaming” and “pet shaming,” which is “a type of public humiliation.”

The word of the year for 2012 was “#hashtag.”


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