Word of the year, care of Sarah Palin

sarah_palinIn what surely is a sign of the imminent downfall of modern society, Sarah Palin’s non-word refudiate has been named New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2010. Apparently, the combination of refute and repudiate has a slightly different meaning from either word, as the Oxford University Press blog says:

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used “refudiate,” we have concluded that neither “refute” nor “repudiate” seems consistently precise, and that “refudiate” more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of “reject.”

Although Palin is likely to be forever branded with the coinage of “refudiate,” she is by no means the first person to speak or write it—just as Warren G. Harding was not the first to use the word normalcy when he ran his 1920 presidential campaign under the slogan “A return to normalcy.” But Harding was a political celebrity, as Palin is now, and his critics spared no ridicule for his supposedly ignorant mangling of the correct word “normality.”

Just because it has been named the word of the year (and, granted, a lot of people did talk about it), and it has a definition (refudiate verb used loosely to mean “reject” [origin — blend of refute and repudiate]), it doesn’t mean it will be added to the dictionary any time soon. Check back in a few years’ time, though!

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