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The Words That Defined 2012

Grant Barrett, a lexicographer and co-host of the public radio program, “A Way with Words,” talks to KPBS.


Grant Barrett, lexicographer and co-host of the public radio program, “A Way with Words.”


For word lovers, it's always fun to see what new words or phrases have become part of the public lexicon in the previous year.

And 2012 certainly did its part in introducing a slew of new words and terminology, thanks in large part to the presidential election, as well as Hurricane Sandy (and other natural phenomenon), social media and pop culture.

Grant Barrett, lexicographer and co-host of public radio's "A Way with Words," shares some of his top picks.

He said political terms like "47 percent" "ObamaLoney" and "Etch A Sketch" came from the presidential campaign.

Then there's "fiscal cliff," "fracking" and "superstorm" to round out the current events list.

Barrett also mentioned "Nomophobia," which is fear that you've lost your phone; and "YOLO," or "You Only Live Once."

The full list will appear in The New York Times on Sunday, December 23.

Here are a few other lists of the words that helped to define 2012:

Merriam-Webster rounds up the most looked-up words in 2012.

The Atlantic shares its A-to-Z guide on the year's "worst words".

The Boston Globe weighs in on 2012's new words.

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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