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Language Experts Choose ‘Dumpster Fire’ and ‘Aleppo’ as 2016 Words of the Year

Language Experts Choose ‘Dumpster Fire’ and ‘Aleppo’ as 2016 Words of the Year
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This is What's Trending Today.

What do the words "dumpster fire," "Aleppo," "Drumpf," "post-truth" and "locker-room banter" have in common?

All five words have appeared in news stories over the past year because of incidents related to the American election campaign.

Language experts nominated the five [phrases] as best representing what Americans were talking about in 2016.

Every year since 1990, the American Dialect Society has voted on its words of the year in several groupings. The society’s top word last year was the pronoun "they," when used as a neutral singular pronoun.

This year, it is not surprising that most of the words under consideration were related to the election campaign in the United States.

Among the nominees for political word of the year were "deplorables" (as in "basket of deplorables"), "nasty woman," "Pantsuit Nation," "post-truth," "woke" and "unpresidented."

The winner was "post-truth." Oxford Dictionaries called it the most frequently used term internationally in 2016.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump mistakenly spelled the word "unprecedented" as "unpresidented" in a tweet.

The spelling was later corrected, but not before it resulted in many re-tweets that played on possible meanings of the word.

The term “dumpster fire” was the winner of the overall Word of the Year. "Dumpster fire" means an exceedingly disastrous situation.

The expression "dumpster fire" was used in the political campaign, but can also describe unrelated events, like singer Mariah Carey's audio problems on New Year's Eve.

Another group’s members voted on the most important names of 2016. The American Name Society chose from choices that included Drumpf, which won as Personal Name of the Year.

John Oliver, of the television show “Last Week Tonight,” urged his viewers to use the German form of Trump's last name. The American Name Society said that "the continued use of “Drumpf” shows the power of naming and name-calling."

Another American politician found that he should have known the name of a city in Syria. Over four years, the Syrian civil war spread into the city of Aleppo. But Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson did not remember its name when asked for his opinion on how to help those living in the city.

Johnson answered, “What is Aleppo?” The American Name Association chose "Aleppo" as Place Name of the Year and overall Name of the Year.

Finally, "Brexit" was chosen as the Trade Name of the Year. The word “Brexit” is a combination of Britain and the word exit, meaning to leave. It describes the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union.

And that's What's Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

What were the most important words of the year in your life for 2016? Write to us by email or in the comments. We'll add them to our list here.


Words in This Story

deplorable - adj. very bad in a way that causes shock, fear, or disgust

basket of deplorables - n. phrase used by Clinton in speech about Trump supporters

nasty woman - n. phrase Trump used about Hillary Clinton in final presidential debate

Pantsuit Nation- n. a popular Facebook group for Clinton supporters

post-truth - n. belonging to a time in which facts matter less than beliefs and emotions

woke - adj. socially aware or enlightened.

unprecedented - adj. not done or experienced before

Drumpf - n. original German form of President-elect Donald Trump's family name

locker-room banter – n. private discussions with one or more individuals; a phrase used by Trump and his supporters to defend his 2005 remarks about women