#blacklivesmatter Is American Dialect Society’s 2014 Word of the Year
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It’s not a conventional winner, but we’ll take it!

The American Dialect Society has voted #blacklivesmatter as its 2014 Word of the Year (we deemed the hashtag worthy of a cover!). The organization—made up of linguistic scholars, etymologists, grammarians and the like—noted the significance and the power of the hashtag that sparked a movement. 

“While #blacklivesmatter may not fit the traditional definition of a word, it demonstrates how powerfully a hashtag can convey a succinct social message,” said Ben Zimmer, chair of the society’s New Words Committee. “Language scholars are paying attention to the innovative linguistic force of hashtags, and #blacklivesmatter was certainly a forceful example of this in 2014.”

#blacklivesmatter won by a landslide, receiving 196 votes. The runner up? “Columbusing,” (White people discovering things that have been long discovered in other cultures) which only received a mere 11 votes. Other contenders in the category included “bae” (“babe”), “manspreading” (men who spread their legs unnecessarily wide on public transportation, blocking seats), and “even” (as in “I can’t even”). #blacklivesmatter also took home the title for Most Notable Hashtag (#icantbreathe received 14 votes).

In a similar vein, “Ferguson” was voted the 2014 Name of the Year by the American Dialect Society’s sister organization, the American Name Society.




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