Pop Culture

Tracking 2010's Most-Used Words, Names And Phrases

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Lady Gaga has become an unlikely source of pep band covers at this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Lady Gaga has become an unlikely source of pep band covers at this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

This year will be remembered as the year of the "spillcam," the vuvuzela and Jersey Shore, among other things. That's according to the Global Language Monitor, which this week released its list of the most-used words and phrases of 2010.

"We track billions of Web pages, billions of blogs, tens of thousands of social media sites, and 75,000 electronic and print media," Paul Payack, president and chief information analyst for the Monitor, tells NPR's Jennifer Ludden. "We see which words are making the biggest news, and how they change in time."

The Monitor found "spillcam" to be the most-used word of 2010, but Payack says they also had to test variations: "Is it BP spillcam, is it spillcam — what's used most frequently?"

"Refudiate" is another winner, which entered the lexicon when Sarah Palin conflated "repudiate" with "refute." And while Palin popularized the term, she didn't actually coin it — it had appeared in literature several times more than 30 years ago. Another popular term Payack points to is "the narrative," which he says has replaced the word "platform" in the political arena.

According to Payack, many of the terms highlighted in the Monitor's list won't soon be forgotten. "Obamamania," for example, was the second most popular phrase of 2009 but dropped to No.10 in 2010.

"We know if you're studying the election of '08, you're going to have to encounter Obamamania," he says, "even if you look at it 1,000 years from now."

Payack says that because of that, many of the Monitor's picks — despite their shelf-lives — have guaranteed themselves a place in history.

Tell us: What's your top word, name or phrase of 2010? And will you gleefully use it into 2011, or will you be glad to see it drop out of favor?



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