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From #Squadgoals To Schlonged, Contenders For 2015's Word Of The Year
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From #Squadgoals To Schlonged, Contenders For 2015's Word Of The Year

From #Squadgoals To Schlonged, Contenders For 2015's Word Of The Year

From #Squadgoals To Schlonged, Contenders For 2015's Word Of The Year
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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/461124484/461206262" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Major #squadgoals? Taylor Swift (center) — with, from left, actress and singer Zendaya, models Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Ellen Pompeo at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this May — refers to her posse as her "squad," which has prompted an aspirational hashtag. i

Major #squadgoals? Taylor Swift (center) — with, from left, actress and singer Zendaya, models Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Ellen Pompeo at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this May — refers to her posse as her "squad," which has prompted an aspirational hashtag. Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images
Major #squadgoals? Taylor Swift (center) — with, from left, actress and singer Zendaya, models Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Ellen Pompeo at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this May — refers to her posse as her "squad," which has prompted an aspirational hashtag.

Major #squadgoals? Taylor Swift (center) — with, from left, actress and singer Zendaya, models Martha Hunt and Lily Aldridge, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Ellen Pompeo at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this May — refers to her posse as her "squad," which has prompted an aspirational hashtag.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

In two weeks, the American Dialect Society will gather and decide: Of all the words we read, wrote, spoke and heard in 2015, which one deserves the title Word of the Year?

Presiding over that conference will be linguist Ben Zimmer, executive editor for Vocabulary.com and a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

In a recurring segment called Words You'll Hear, All Things Considered explores stories by parsing some of the words associated with them. Today's special edition of that series: Words You've Heard.

The ADS has been picking a word of the year since 1990, Zimmer tells NPR's Michel Martin.

"The idea was to select a word that was new or notable, said something about the past year," he says. "It was really modeled after Times' Person of the Year. So we take it very seriously.

"At the same time, we like to have a lot of fun with the process," he says.

Here are a few candidates for this year's pick — with definitions and explanations from Zimmer. You can find a complete list of the Year in Words at Vocabulary.com.


Deconfliction

"That's a bit of military jargon that we started hearing, especially a few months ago, when things started heating up in Syria and Russia was starting to launch air strikes and Secretary of State John Kerry said that there had to be 'deconfliction.' What that meant was we had to avoid airspace conflicts. But that's an example where very often if there's a conflict, that kind of military jargon can be thrust into the public eye."

Unicorns

"That was a term that actually started back in 2013 — this idea that a company, a startup, that is valued at a billion dollars or more could be called a 'unicorn' because these things, at least at the time, were so rare. But the unicorn club keeps growing and growing, so now we have herds of unicorns and these unicorn startups very often can get gobbled up by larger companies, or their valuation may dip below that magic billion-dollar mark. ... You become a dead unicorn, or another term is 'unicorpse.' "

#Squadgoals

"If you hear ['Bad Blood,'] you might just visualize Taylor Swift walking along with her squad — that's her posse. Taylor Swift kind of commandeered that term 'squad,' and we see it being used in all sorts of combinations — like #squadgoals, that's often hashtagged on Instagram and other social media. Kind of an aspirational statement about what you and your squad would like to achieve."

Schlonged

"The year was almost over and Donald Trump graced us with this word. ... He was speaking about Hillary Clinton and her defeat in the 2008 primaries, and he said that she got 'schlonged.' ...

"[A Yiddish vulgarity] is ultimately where it comes from, but Donald Trump claims that this is not vulgar at all, he simply meant that she was beaten in the polls and it's created, obviously, a lot of controversy. So it may not be the most presidential of words but it was certainly one that entered into the political discourse right at the end of the year."

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