"Hashtag" refers to words or phrases used on Twitter that are preceded by a hashtag (#) symbol to note a trending topic or to make a commentary.
“This was the year when the hashtag became a ubiquitous phenomenon in online talk,” said Ben Zimmer, chair of the American Dialect Society’s New Words Committee.
“In the Twittersphere and elsewhere, hashtags have created instant social trends, spreading bite-sized viral messages on topics ranging from politics to pop culture,” he said.
Word-of-the-year runners-up for 2012 included “fiscal cliff,” “47 percent,” “Gangnam Style,” “marriage equality,” and “YOLO”—which is an acronym for the phrase, “you only live once.”
The American Dialect Society also offers an “Election Words” category, which includes “Etch-a-Sketch,” “Eastwooding,” “Romney/Obama,” “binders (full of women),” and “malarkey.”
“Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item” — not just words but phrases,” the dialect group said in a Jan. 4 news release. “The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year.”
The American Dialect Society is a membership based group dedicated to the study of languages and dialects both in North America and around the world.
To date, it holds the longest running “word of the year” voting tradition and is the only one “not tied to commercial interests.”