Tyler Vendetti
Updated Dec 19, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

On Monday, Merriam-Webster announced their pick for “Word of the Year.” The winner? “Culture.” At first glance, the choice might seem a bit too . . . general? Culture, after all, is a far-reaching term with a definition that is really impossible to pin down. Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large defended the choice, saying: Culture is a word that we seem to be relying on more and more. It allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group with seriousness.” i.e. phrases like “rape culture” and “celebrity culture” allow us to categorize experiences and environments more easily. So I understand the editor’s logic, but there are plenty of other slang, words, terms, and phrases that much better scream 2014 IMHO. To name a few:

Polar vortex

Remember, back in early January, when schools started declaring “cold days” thanks to the mysterious polar vortex that the weatherman kept mentioning? The phrase makes a dip in temperature sound super ominous (and, thus, much more likely to result in a school cancellation). Sadly, the repeated use of this phrase has started to undermine its actual meaning (a pocket of cold air kept in place by a polar jet stream), making it less credible. Soon, we’re going to have to find a replacement phrase that sounds equally as intimidating. “Super big and scary storm” gets my vote but I’m open to other suggestions.

Said no one ever

The world has not seen a more ridiculous comeback since the days of “why don’t you marry it.” I would like to think we’ve come a long way since the 1990s but this phrase keeps me wondering. While it’s certainly been around for longer than a year, its popularity in 2014 has significantly increased. I blame Twitter for the sudden spike in usage. “Said no one ever” is the easiest way to construct a funny RT-able tweet. Example: “I think “culture” should have been the word of the year — said no one ever.”

Turn up

If you were able to stomach the incredibly odd “Turn Down for What” video that was released earlier this year, you may have gotten into the habit of referring to partying as “turning up.” Or, if you prefer to stay inside and complain about all the rambunctious youths, you’re probably more familiar with the alternative, “turn down for STUDYING.” (No? Just me?) If “turn up” or “turn down” is not appealing to you, you could always try “turnt.” As in “I was so turnt last night, I don’t even remember teaching the dog the Carlton.”


Bae, meaning “before anyone else,” sprang up as a new term of endearment this year. If you haven’t seen it, then I can only assume you’ve been offline since January, because this three-letter acronym has taken over the interweb. While I’m not personally a fan of bae (the more I say it out loud, the less I like it), I cannot deny its presence in our vocabulary. So, if I were to pick a #1 word of the year, this would be it.


The prominence of the feminist movement, along with the LGBTQ rights movement, were HUGE this year (Yasssss). From Emma Watson’s insightful UN speech to Laverne Cox’s push for transgender equality, the progress made by feminists in 2014 restored my faith in humanity and demonstrated the word’s really hardcore importance in our culture. (Take that, Time Magazine.)


Just when I thought twerk was on its way out, Nicki Minaj released her music video for “Anaconda” and brought it back into circulation. The dance has been around for decades, it’s true, but it wasn’t until Miley’s VMA stunt in 2013 that the term “twerk” started to gain traction. As a result, the word (and the dance) has appeared in dozens of videos and Vine compilations this year, crushing my hopes and dreams of never having to see the term ever again. Not everything twerks out the way you want it to, I guess.


Ten years ago, when you turned on an episode of American Idol, the only thing you’d find on the screen was the singer belting out some high-notes, a banner with their name and voting number on it, and a shot of Simon Cowell scowling at the performance. Now, if you’re still watching American Idol, you’ll find the singer’s Twitter username, their Facebook page, and the show’s designated hashtag. Hashtags have become so integral to our popular culture, many of the younger kiddos have forgotten its other name, the pound sign. #sighhhh.

Literally I can’t

This phrase got its own song in 2014. Not a good song (read: a terrible and insensitive song that I’m not even going to bother to link to), but a song nonetheless. If that doesn’t earn it a place on this list, I don’t know what will.

Women Crush Wednesday/Man Crush Monday

#WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) appeared on Instagram last year but it didn’t really take off until this one, along with its counterpart MCM (Man Crush Monday). The correlation between #wcw and the rise in lovey-dovey Pic-Stitch photos on Facebook has not been officially confirmed (but I’m pretty positive it’s real).

Which one gets your vote?

Featured image via Memegen.com, via