Word of the Year

Occupy is linguist Geoff Nunberg’s 2011 word of the year {npr}. In part for its flexibility as a verb, and in part due to Nunberg’s selection criteria, including an “item that shaped the perception of [an] important event.”

An excerpt:

Now, it’s true the protesters weren’t really occupying Wall Street in the old sense, taking it over the way workers in the 1930s occupied a factory or students in the ’60s occupied the dean’s office. This is a new meaning of the verb, for a form of protest adapted to the age of smartphones and Twitter, not to mention REI. Once the new occupy grew capital letters, you could export it to places that had no direct connection to finance, as franchises of the original: Occupy Oakland, like Macy’s San Francisco. They could have just been called protests, but it wouldn’t have felt as much like a movement.