One of my favorite parts of December and January is the year-end summaries. I look forward to all the different forms, from TIME’s person of the year to Richmond-based rapper Skillz’s yearly “Rap Up.” It’s fun to see how different people summarize a full calendar year into one image, story or song. And it’s fascinating to look back over the summaries to see if they accurately reflect how history remembers that year.
Logophiles will be especially interested in Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year for 2011: tergiversate (tur-ji-ver-seyt), a verb meaning “to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.”
The panel members chose the word to because they felt it “captured the character” of 2011, not because it fell into common usage over the year (like “occupy,” for example).
Like most yearly summaries, Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year has sparked a bit of controversy. Some people are frustrated that their personal favorite wasn’t picked, others that the selection was so obscure. If you’re unhappy with “tergiversate,” not to worry: Merriam-Webster will release its choice by the year’s end too.
Personally, I’m not bothered by Dictionary.com’s choice of “tergiversate.” It seems like an accurate enough reflection of the past year. Out of the words they considered, however, I think I might have gone with the simplest option: “jobs.” It would represent both the year’s unemployment crisis as well as—more subtly—the Steve Jobs mania.
Here’s hoping that 2012’s selection has more of a positive connotation. Perhaps “resiliency”?
What do you think of Dictionary.com’s 2011 Word of the Year?