Top words and new words: It's exhaustipating

I know that some readers of this blog are perturbed by new words and changing usage. Sometimes I am too. But the dynamic nature of English is exciting. We don’t have to embrace every new word that comes along and we can keep slang in its place, but sometimes we just have to recognize a good word when we read it or hear it.

In TV Guide, I ran across "exhaustipating." Michael Logan was writing about a silly plot on "One Life to Live" and called it "the dumbest, most exhaustipating" of the year. I went on a Google search for other instances and definitions for "exhaustipating." The Addictionary defines "exhaustipated" as being so tired that nothing comes out right. Some sites speculate that the word is a combination of "exhausted" and "constipated." I don’t know about that, but I can use this word these days.

That word search led me to the top words of 2008 from Merriam-Webster Online, which includes a couple of words I wrote about last year: vet and maverick. The No. 1 word is "bailout."

Chicago Tribune columnist Julia Keller looks back at some top words of 2008, including "leverage" and "change." And "change" is the No. 1 word on Time magazine’s top 10 for 2008. The New York Times puts "frugalista" and "staycation" among the 20 buzzwords for 2008. The author of the Times’ list is Grant Barrett, a lexicographer who specializes in tracking new words at his site, Double-Tongued Dictionary. He also has a role in the American Dialect Society’s vote on the top words of the year.

Word Spy keeps a list of the 100 words with the most page views.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.