And the Word of the Year Is …

Linguist Lynne Murphy, at her Separated by a Common Language blog, each year chooses two Words of the Year: one that’s traveled from the U.S. to the U.K., and one that’s traveled the other way, and is thus of interest here. Yesterday she named the U.S.-to-U.K. word: “furlough.”

Today’s she announced her U.K.-to-U.S. selection. There were two runners-up, both of which have been looked at here: “reckon” and “rubbish.” She specified “rubbish” as adjective (“a rubbish idea”) and verb (“don’t rubbish my idea”). My various posts on the word (which you can search for in the sidebar at right) have been as adjective and noun. For the latter, in the U.S., “garbage” or “trash” are more common, except in Massachusetts. I will have to keep my eyes out for “rubbish” as verb.

And Lynne’s winner is … “jab,” covered here just a week or so ago. She included this funny cartoon from @birdyword on Twitter:

While we’re talking about end-of-the-year things, I want to offer hearty thanks to NOOBs readers and commentators, who make this enterprise worth doing. Hard to believe, but 2020 was my tenth year of doing the blog — the actual tenth anniversary will come in a couple of months. This year — as in every year since the first — there have been more than 200,000 page views, about 100,000 from the U.S., 60,000 from the U.K., and the rest from all around the globe.

The most popular posts this year were:

One again, thanks so much for reading and have a great 2021. At the very least, it’s got to be a huge improvement on the year that came before.

10 thoughts on “And the Word of the Year Is …

  1. Thinking about ‘jab” a little more, I think here in the UK, we tend to use it more for vaccines – flu jab, tetanus jab etc – than for other injections, which might use the word “shot” (but I’m not sure if I am just imagining this).
    Happy New Year.

    1. I think you’re right. Would a drug user refer to a “jab of heroin”, or a “heroin jab”? Possibly, but not likely

      1. I think we may say jab when we want to downplay an injection and make it sound mundane. “It’ll only be a quick jab” comes to mind. No, we wouldn’t say morphine jab or heroin jab, they would more likely be shot of morphine or shot of heroin. And I think I would also probably say “insulin shot” or “heparin shot” rather than jab.

      2. Sorry, meant to say that I would probably call it an “insulin jab”, to downplay it as everyday and routine.

    2. That’s interesting. I think a nurse here would say something like “quick jab”, or “sharp scratch” before putting in the needle. I’ve never heard them say “little pinch”.

  2. Jab is the action: eg of a first (a left jab), finger (a jab in the ribs) or needle ( although it should hopefully be rather more measured).
    Shot is the liquid to be administered, as in a shot served in a bar.
    UK and US just use a different shortened form of the administration of the vaccine.

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