2015 Words of the Year

dictionary-1423121-639x424Dictionaries like to name their Word of the Year each year to indicate words that have become more popular in that year. It is definitely an interesting look at the American language each year. In 2015, Oxford and Merriam-Webster both chose a Word of the Year as did the American Dialect Society. With apologies to those who may be sensitive to the words that are not used in common language (at least in groups that you may run with), in the name of keeping it on fleek, I felt it was important to list them all so you would have the information uncensored and not with the intention to offend anyone. Let’s look at their choices.

The Oxford dictionary chose not a word at all, but the “Face With Tears of Joy” emoji. It is the first time that a pictograph was chosen over a word “that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.” Just in case you don’t know what that emoji looks like, it is this one:


The Oxford “short list” included:

  • ad blocker, noun: A piece of software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page.
  • Brexit, noun: A term for the potential or hypothetical departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, from British + exit.
  • Dark Web, noun: The part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.
  • on fleek, adjectival phrase: Extremely good, attractive, or stylish.
  • lumbersexual, noun: A young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress (typified by a beard and check shirt) suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle.
  • refugee, noun: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
  • sharing economy, noun: An economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet.
  • they (singular), pronoun: Used to refer to a person of unspecified sex.

2015 was definitely a year of non-traditional “words” chosen as Word of the Year. Merriam-Webster.com for the first time chose the suffix “-ism” as its Word of the Year, which is the word most frequently looked up in their publication, because “a small group of words that share this three-letter ending triggered both high volume and significant year-over-year increase in lookups at Merriam-Webster.com. Taken together, these seven words represent millions of individual dictionary lookups.” The words with that suffix most frequently searched were socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism, and terrorism.

The American Dialect Society also voted on its Word of the Year. I find all of the choices most interesting, so am including them here. According to the American Dialect Society, “Note that the number after each nomination is the number of votes it received. Winners are indicated by an asterisk, and numbers separated by slash marks indicate a run-off.”


ammosexual: someone who loves firearms in a fetishistic manner. 42
ghost: (verb) abruptly end a relationship by cutting off communication, especially online. 25
on fleek: put together, impeccable, well-arrayed. 4
thanks, Obama: sarcastic expression in which a person pretends to blame Obama for a problem. 76
* they: gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person, particularly as a nonbinary identifier. 187


mic drop: definitive end to a discussion after making an impressive point. 2
microaggression: subtle form of racism or bias. 62
shade: insult, criticism or disrespect, shown in a subtle or clever manner. 11
* they: gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person, particularly as a nonbinary identifier. 214
zero fucks given, ZFG: indication of supreme indifference. 41


adult: (verb) behave like a grownup 71
* ammosexual: someone who loves firearms in a fetishistic manner. 153
lowkey: (adverb) to a small extent, in a subtle manner; opposite of highkey. 38
squad: one’s posse or close circle of friends. 3
yass, yaass, yaaass, etc.: expression of excitement, approval or strong agreement. 43


dadbod: the flabby physique of a typical dad. 16
* manbun: man’s hairstyle pulled up in a bun. 207
or nah: question tag expressing that something may not occur. 34
trigger warning: alert for potentially distressing material. 10
thanks, Obama: sarcastic expression in which a person pretends to blame Obama for a problem. 34

fish gape
: posed expression with cheeks sucked in and lips slightly apart. 3
* fuckboy, fuckboi: derogatory term for a man who behaves objectionably or promiscuously. 127 / 173
schlong: (verb) defeat soundly. 93 / 148
sharewashing: deceptive marketing by companies treating services as “sharing.” 14
white student union: campus organization organized in response to a black student union. 27

af, asf
: intensifier after an adjective (abbreviation for “as fuck”). 1
lit: amazing, exciting or fun. 2
* Netflix and chill: sexual come-on masked as a suggestion to watch Netflix and relax. 315
swipe right/left: accept or reject (based on gestures used on Tinder dating app). 24


CRISPR: gene-editing technology allowing biologists to alter and control DNA sequences. 51
* ghost: (verb) abruptly end a relationship by cutting off communication, especially online. 223
mom: admiring term of address for a woman seen as a mother figure. 17
on fleek: put together, impeccable, well-arrayed. 23


Berniementum: momentum behind the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. 59
hoverboard: self-balancing motorized skateboard. 82 / 106
* sitbit: device that rewards sedentary lifestyle (play on Fitbit fitness tracker). 102 / 191
Uber for X: pitch used by startups seeking to emulate Uber in different tech sectors. 33


#JeSuisParis: expression of solidarity after the Paris terror attacks. 6
#LoveWins: celebration of Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. 60
* #SayHerName: call to bring attention to violence against women of color. 178
#StayMadAbby: ridiculing plaintiff in Univ. of Texas affirmative action case. 17
#StayWoke: exhortation to remain vigilant and informed (used by #BlackLivesMatter movement). 59


heart eyes: heart eyes (romantic, passionate). 31

winking face: winking face (humorous, flirtatious). 8

information desk: information desk person (sassy, sarcastic). 31

*eggplant : eggplant (sexual innuendo). 138

100: 100 (“keep it 100,” “keep it real”). 56

Don’t you feel smarter now? I had heard some of these expressions, but didn’t know exactly what they meant. Now I do.


  1. http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/11/word-of-the-year-2015-emoji/
  2. http://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/word-of-the-year-2015/-ism
  3. http://www.americandialect.org/2015-word-of-the-year-is-singular-they


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