Webster's New World(R) College Dictionary: Info Addicts Are All Thumbs

Crackberry Is the 2006 Word of the Year

Nov 01, 2006, 00:00 ET from John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

    HOBOKEN, N.J., Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- When it comes to technology,
 we're all thumbs -- feeding an addiction to PDA's and cellphones, and
 generating Word-of-the-Year buzz at Webster's New World(R) College
     Crackberry, winner of the 2006 Word-of-the-Year contest among the
 dictionary's staff, sums up the ubiquitous thumbing of keypads on handheld
 devices throughout the country. And it does double duty, denoting both the
 device and the user. Whether on BlackBerries -- the PDA's that spawned this
 latest appellation -- or cellphones, or other handheld devices, people
 hunched over these tools are a common sight. That devout-looking hunch
 itself, note Webster's New World editors, is called the Crackberry prayer,
 homage to this latest obsession.
     Devotion to digital communications is nothing new to lexicographers
 tracking new terminology. Mouse potato, geek chic, and Thumb Generation are
 all terms now solidly entrenched in the dictionary's massive database, if
 not yet in the dictionary itself. They speak to the mesmerizing attraction
 of instant contact and information.
     Crackberry had quite a number of competitors for Word-of-the-Year
 status at Webster's New World this year, and the obvious choice, Pluto,
 was, of course, high on the list. No longer defined as a planet, Pluto and
 its demotion to dwarf planet may require a number of dictionary entry
 changes in the coming year.
     Choosing the Word of the Year is a pleasant exercise that the editors
 and language researchers (called citation readers) of Webster's New World
 look forward to each year. "We survey the new, emerging language of the
 past year," says Editor in Chief Michael Agnes, "and choose one word (or
 phrase) that captures our imagination -- whether with its intrinsic
 linguistic attributes or by the way it expresses how language reflects
 changing realities."
     Among the other competitors for Word of the Year in 2006 were
     * netroots           a grassroots movement on the Internet that is
                          employed in political and business marketing;
     * neuroeconomics     an emerging field studying the emotions activated in
                          financial decisions; and
     * carbon footprint   the effect one's daily activities -- like washing
                          clothes or driving to work -- have on the
     "In most cases," says Agnes, "the word chosen is a new one and thus
 hasn't yet found its way into the dictionary. As we do not try to predict
 the future of language change in English, the choice does not reflect an
 opinion that the term will eventually be found in the dictionary. In short,
 it's merely one that made us chuckle, think, reflect, or just shake our
 heads. In any case, it is a product of our language monitoring program, by
 which we collect examples of emerging new English -- to the tune of 2,000
 new examples per month. Our citation files now hold approximately 1.9
 million such examples."
     Through more than five decades of language research, Webster's New
 World lexicographers have created a uniquely modern dictionary that helps
 you understand and use the language as no other dictionary can. With the
 most readable, precise, and up-to-date definitions, the dictionary also has
 reference sections that provide a wealth of information not found in any
 other college-level dictionary. Included are a full-color atlas of the
 world, rules of punctuation, geographical tables, and scientific and
 measurement charts. The rich history of our language is traced with the
 identification of Americanisms and with detailed etymologies, and the
 dictionary also boasts higher-quality paper that enhances readability and
     Selected by the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York
 Times, and other leading newspapers as their official dictionary of choice,
 Webster's New World College Dictionary represents the finest linguistic
 scholarship. For more information on the lexicographical process behind the
 dictionary, Editor in Chief Mike Agnes is available for interviews.
               Webster's New World(R) -- We Define Your World(R)
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