Top words, phrases, names of 2012: Apocalypse, Gangnam Style, Newtown


The Global Language Monitor announced this week that “apocalypse” was the top word for 2012, “Gangnam Style” was the top phrase and “Newtown” and “Malala Yousafzai” were the top names in the 13th annual survey of the English language.

In the review of top words, the GLM said after “apocalypse” came “deficit,” “olympiad,” “Bak’tun,” “meme,” “MOOC,” “the Cloud,” “omnishambles,” “frankenstorm” and “obesogenic.”

GLM president Paul JJ Payack said, “Apocalypse – armageddon and similar terms – reflects a growing fascination with various ‘end-of-the-world’ scenarios, or at least the end of life as we know it. This year the Mayan Apocalypse was well noted, but some eight of the top words and phrases were directly related to a sense of impending doom.”

Payack noted the use of such hybrid words as “Obamageddon,” “Romneygeddon” and “Eurogeddon.”

A look at the other lists:

Top phrases

1. Gangnam Style.

2. Global warming/climate change.

3. Fiscal cliff.

4. The deficit.

5. God Particle.

6. Rogue nukes.

7. Near-Earth asteroid.

8. Binders full of women.

9. Arab Spring.

10. Solar max.

The top names of 2012

1. Newtown and Malala Yousafza. 

2. Xi Jinping.

3. Kate Middleton.

4. President Barack Obama.

5. Mitt Romney.

6. London Olympics.

7. Higgs Boson.

8. Europe.

9. Felix Baumgartner.

10. Senkaku Islands.

GLM develops its end-of-year lists based upon word usage in primarily English-speaking countries. To qualify for the lists, the words, names and phrases must be found globally, have a minimum of 25,000 citations. There must also be a depth and breadth of usage, which can be tracked in print and on the Web.