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The nominees for Words of the Year are in—and they include “stonk” and “horny jail.”

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January 7, 2022, 1:08pm

Just dropping in to let you guys know that tonight at 5:30 pm EST the American Dialect Society will be holding a virtual voting session to select their Words of the Year. It’s free and livestreamed, and you can register here. But if you can’t make it—or you want to mentally pregame for the event itself—the ADS has already posted their list of nominated words, and the words are, shall we say, eclectic.

The nominees in various categories (Political, Digital, Pandemic-Related, Financial/Economic, Informal, Euphemism, Most Creative, Most Useful, Most Likely to Succeed, Word of the Year) include words you might expect if you paid attention to last year’s news cycle—“critical race theory,” “insurrection,” “NFT,” “boosted”—but also more surprising, whimsical choices. A few surprising inclusions: “horny jail,” an imagined place a person is sent to as punishment for being excessively sexual on social media (the idea being a person is bonked on the head and sent to horny jail), and “bones day/no bones day,” meaning whether a day will be good or bad, based on  Jonathan Graziano’s TikTok videos of his dog Noodle getting up in the morning. Post-pandemic (post-start of the pandemic, that is), it makes sense that digital language is our language.

The ADS has selected words of the year since 1990, to “highlight language change, to bring a few aspects of the study of linguistics to the public’s attention, and to have a little bit of fun.” The last five years’ Words of the Year, from 2020 to 2016, were: Covid, pronouns, tender-age shelter, fake news, dumpster fire.

Browse the list of nominated words here.

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