New Oxford American Dictionary announces Word of the Year: ‘Podcast’

Only a year ago, podcasting was an arcane activity, the domain of a few techies and self-admitted “geeks.” Now you can hear everything from NASCAR coverage to NPR’s All Things Considered in downloadable audio files called “podcasts”. Thousands of podcasts are available at the iTunes Music Store, and websites such as and track thousands more. That’s why the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary have selected “podcast” as the Word of the Year for 2005. Podcast, defined as “a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player,” will be added to the next online update of the New Oxford American
Dictionary, due in early 2006.

Runners-up for the 2005 Word of the Year include:
• bird flu (an often fatal flu virus of birds, esp. poultry, that is transmissible from them to humans, in whom it may also prove fatal)
• ICE (an entry stored in one’s cellular phone that provides emergency contact information)
• IDP (internally displaced person; someone forced to relocate within a country because of a natural disaster or civil unrest)
• IED (improvised explosive device, such as a car bomb)
• lifehack (a more efficient or effective way of completing an everyday task: “I found a great lifehack for getting a cheap hotel room.”)
• persistent vegetative state (a condition in which a patient recovering from a coma retains reflex responses and may appear wakeful, but has no cognitive functions or other evidence of cerebral cortical activity)
• reggaeton (a Latin American dance music which combines elements of reggae music with hip-hop and rap.)
• rootkit (software installed on a computer by someone other than the owner, intended to conceal other programs or processes, files or system data.)
• squick (cause immediate and thorough revulsion: “was anyone else squicked by our waiter’s piercings?”)
• sudoku (a logic-based puzzle consisting of squares that form grids within a grid. Into each smaller grid, the numerals 1 through 9 are entered but not repeated, and they may not be repeated in any row or column of the larger grid.)
• trans fat (fat containing trans-fatty acids, considered unhealthier than other dietary fats.)

Erin McKean, editor in chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary, said: “Podcast was considered for inclusion last year, but we found that not enough people were using it, or were even familiar with the concept. This year it’s a completely different story. The word has finally caught up with the rest of the iPod phenomenon.”

“Choosing the word of the year is incredibly difficult,” said McKean. “Not just because of the enormous amount of data we look at-everything from blogs to technical journals to suggestions sent to -but because everyone has such strong opinions about what makes a word Word of the Year material. You’d be amazed at how hard our editors campaign for their favorites. I’m surprised nobody tried to bribe me — except that the only thing I really want is more cool new words!”

Oxford University Press, Inc. (OUP USA), is Oxford University Press’s second major publishing center, after Oxford (UK). It publishes works that further Oxford University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education. The Press had its origins in the information technology revolution of the late fifteenth century, which began with the invention of printing from movable type. The first book was printed in Oxford in 1478. More info here.

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  1. Lemme get this straight: “ICE” and “persistent vegetative state” were runners-up for the 2005 Word of the Year? Oh I get it: It’s awarded by the New Oxford American Dictionary. I know the difference between the definition of a broad and a broad definition but this is risquickulous. [Not too many people are using that one yet either.]

  2. haha remember MS wanted this kind of feed to be name as something else.. hahah i can’t even remember what they suggest it be instead of podcast, thats how fast it blew in their face. Now podcast is the standard MS has lost there marketing effort.

  3. it was ‘blogcast’.

    Which, to give them credit, makes sense, since most podcasts are audio versions of web logs, or ‘blogs’, and do not need an iPod to listen to.

    But since it was M$ that came up with the alternative, it’s automatically not a good idea…

  4. Actually, ‘blogcast’ is terrible exactly because podcasts are unlike blogs. The experience is like that of a radio show, and I get the impression that the majority of popular podcasts use a radio show format.

    Besides, ‘blogcast’ is impossible to pronounce.

  5. macaholic wrote: “how about the word that declined most in usage in 2005?

    “beleaguered” is my suggestion”

    Will never happen as that label will be applied to Sony (for their rootkit) and when that wears off, to M$ (the “dead walking elephant”).

    Oxford seyz: “late fifteenth century, which began with the invention of printing from movable type.”

    Didn’t the Chinese invent it like nine centuries before that? And were doing multi-color printing to boot!?

    Why do we persist in perpetuating that which we now know to be untrue? Like Columbus wasn’t the first (or even second or third) to discover, or even rediscover, America, Magellan wasn’t the first to circumnavigate the globe, etc. Yet we still teach this crap in our schools.

    Then again, most of the world still uses Windoze, so what should i expect, really? But it begs the question: Are most people dumb enough to use Windoze because the education system is so poor? Or is the education so poor because most people are dumb enough to use Windoze? Makes you wonder…

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