From Shelfies to Felfies: The Best and Worst Words of 2013

Logophiles scored big in 2013. From Miley’s revival of “twerk” to the widespread use of “hashtag,” the English language has seen a lot of changes this past year. While I welcome some of the new additions, there are others that I would rather see stuffed in a metaphorical suitcase and stashed away for the rest of eternity. For example:

Twerknado (n.): the act of twerking done in a circular motion at a great rate of speed

Inspired by the popular sci-fi movie Sharknado, twerknado refers to a rotational version of Miley Cyrus’s famous (infamous?) dance move. In scientific terms, twerknado occurs when “a low pressure twerk front meets the warmer high pressure twerk front. The mixing of these two twerks can result in the twerk to move in a twisting motion that is super dangerous.” (Thanks to UrbanDictionary for providing quality definitions, as always.) I veto this word from 2014, solely because I don’t believe people should be able to move their butts that fast. It defies the laws of physics so I personally believe the universe would be better off without it.

Marabomber (n.): slang for the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, or his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Do I have to explain why this word is not okay? Apparently so, because “marabomber,” a portmanteau of Boston Marathon and “bomber,” sprung up across the Internet this year. I know Dzhokhar’s name is hard to pronounce, but did we really have to resort to “fun” abbreviations for one of the most deranged criminals of 2013? I vote no.

Felfie (n.): a funeral selfie

Prompted, I assume, by the grossly misrepresented “Obama selfie” picture at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, felfies are another word for “a selfie taken at a funeral.” This comes after a slew of other “-elfie” words made the news, including “belfie” (butt selfie), helfie (hair selfie) and “welfie” (work-out selfie). My question is, when did we, as a generation, become so selfish that we spend more time taking pictures of ourselves than respecting the loss of other human beings? Felfies are the definition of “too soon.”

Meggings (n.): leggings for men

Not only does the word “meggings” sound downright awful, but the concept itself seems like the result of a poorly planned product pitch. (Or, perhaps, a well-planned one, considering the item actually made it to the markets.) If we can’t get meggings off the market, can we at least agree to call them something more reasonable? Is “tight pants” really so bad?

Affluenza (n.): a condition in which someone from a wealthy background is unable to recognize their own bad behavior

The fact that this word was ever accepted as a legitimate defense in court sets a precedent to all other rich kids that they can get away with whatever they want without consequences. We don’t need a fancy label to legitimize the protection of spoiled brats. For that reason, I vote that “affluenza” should kick the bucket in 2014.

Not all words that rose to fame in 2014 were terrible, though. In fact, there are some new terms that I wouldn’t mind keeping around for a while longer.

Shelfie (n.): a bookshelf selfie

While plenty of terrible selfie mutations emerged this year, there was one that didn’t make me hate humanity. Shelfie refers to a selfie with your bookshelf for the purpose of showing off your book collection. I see nothing wrong with flaunting your literary pride so shelfie can stay in my vocabulary.

Listicle (n.): an article in the form of a list

Everyone loves listicles. It’s a fact. They can make boring subjects bearable and in some cases, fun to read. (21 Awesome Things Abraham Lincoln Did sounds much more appealing than A History of America’s 16th President.) Then again, most of my articles are in listicle format, so I’m slightly biased.

Subtweet (n.): a subliminal tweet which refers to person without directly mentioning their name

I’m passive aggressive and I have a social media problem. Therefore, “subtweet” satisfies all of my annoying habits, like tweeting pictures of clothes I want to my family around Christmas. I’m kidding! I only do that on Facebook. Geez.

Friendscaping (v.): trimming ones “friends” lists on social media sites

On Facebook, I abide by the “birthday rule,” meaning that if I don’t feel comfortable wishing someone a happy birthday over the Internet, I’m not close enough to be Facebook friends with them. It seems harsh, I know, but social media makes me weary when it comes to personal relationships. Apparently, this process has a name, “friendscaping.” This word sounds much more humane than “cleaning up my friends list” so I vote we keep it.

Hate-Watch (v.): watching a show or movie you hate for the sole purpose of hating on it

I have a theory that mutual hatred can drive friendships just as well as mutual love or appreciation. That goes for people, food, books, and even TV shows. 2013 has a word for that shared hatred and the bond created through that hatred: hate-watching, or watching a show simply because you hate it and you want to talk to other people about how much you hate it. It’s not the nicest practice, but it’s surprisingly enjoyable when you’re having a bad day. (Hate-watch, like many of the words on this list, was not invented in 2013. It just rose to popularity.)

Those are my favorite and least favorite words of 2013. What words will emerge in 2014? Only time will tell.

Image via Shutterstock.