Visitors to Merriam-Webster OnLine Choose “w00t”

as 2007 WORD OF THE YEAR

SPRINGFIELD, MA, December 2007—Merriam-Webster OnLine, the leading source for English language reference on the Web, has revealed the results of its Word of the Year online survey for 2007. In 2006, the site’s users were asked to submit their personal picks for word of the year,  and an overwhelming majority voted for “truthiness”— a word introduced by Stephen Colbert on the debut of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. This year, users were asked to choose from a list of twenty words culled from both frequent lookups on Merriam-Webster OnLine and from user-created submissions to one of the site’s most popular features, Merriam-Webster’s Open Dictionary. From the thousands of votes submitted, the company’s online community has chosen the word “w00t” to take top honors as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2007.

The interjection “w00t,” defined by Open Dictionary users as “an expression of joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word ‘yay,’” first became popular in competitive online gaming forums as part of what is known as “l33t” (“leet,” or “elite”) speak—an esoteric computer hacker language in which numbers and symbols are put together to look like letters. Although the double “o” in the word is usually represented by double zeroes, the exclamation is also known to be an acronym for “we owned the other team”—again stemming from the gaming community.

 “What’s interesting about the selection of w00t is that it is taking language in a new direction,” said John Morse, President and Publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc. “Given the inefficiency of texting with a numeric keyboard, people look for self-evident numeral-letter substitutions: 0 for O; 3 for E; 7 for T; and 4 for A. This is simply a different and more efficient way of representing the alphabetical character.”

The winning “w00t” is one of three words in this year’s Top Ten coming from Merriam-Webster’s Open Dictionary-- a real-time chronicle of new words and definitions not yet found in regular dictionaries, and based entirely on user submissions. Second place in the 2007 list went to “facebook,” a verb meaning to add someone to your list of friends on the Facebook.com Web site or to search for a person through this popular online directory. Taking fifth place is the newcomer “blamestorm,” which is used to describe a group discussion on why a deadline was missed, a project failed, or who is to be blamed or to take responsibility. The most popular word found in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary was “conundrum” (coming in third), “a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun, or a question or problem having only a conjectural answer.”

For the complete list of Merriam-Webster’s Words of the Year2007, including definitions, please visit http://www.merriam-webster.com.  For additional information, or to arrange an interview on this topic with John M. Morse, please contact Arthur J. Bicknell, Senior Publicist, at the above address.

Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
Merriam-Webster Inc. acquired the rights to revise and publish Noah Webster’s dictionaries in 1843. Since then, Merriam-Webster has maintained an ongoing commitment to innovation, scholarship, and love of language. Today, the company continues as the leader in both print and electronic language reference publishing with reference products, learning tools, and word games. For more information about the company, and about Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, visit Merriam-Webster OnLine at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

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