The Lexiteria Corporation, sponsor of the Alpha Dictionary website, announced its Word of the Year for 2004 today. The word is tsunami, a Japanese word meaning 'harbor wave.' 'This word was probably unfamiliar to most English-speakers before Christmas,' said Robert Beard, PhD, President of The Lexiteria and former CEO of yourDictionary.com. 'We cannot think of a word that became so well-known so fast in recent times.' Dr. Beard added that many English-speakers think of large waves as tidal waves but a tsunami has nothing to do with tides or harbors. They are caused by earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, and meteorites hitting an ocean. In 1958 a landslide of about 50 million square yards of rock and earth set off a tsunami roughly 4/10 of mile high in remote Lituya Bay, Canada. 'The word tsunami hit the English-speaking world very much like the object it names,' said Wendy Middleton, MLIS, Vice President. 'In fact, it is used in just about all the languages of the world.' Because tsunami hit the world so late this year, The Lexiteria only had time to poll its staff members to override other contenders that came from its readership. Runners-up included:
- 'spiderhole,' a new term for a presidential residence in Iraq;
- 'Fahrenheit,' from Michael Moore's movie that raised temperatures in the Republican party;
- 'election,' the up-coming one in Iraq that may have influenced the one in the US;
- 'Deaniac,' a member of the 'flash crowd' that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean created via the Internet that also disappeared in a flash, and
- 'metrosexual,' the dandy of the new millennium."
Hey, I already knew what a freaking 'tsunami' was. And I knew how to properly punctuate words as words, too.