“Geek” has been honoured as the word of the year by CollinsDictionary.com, having evolved from being something negative and insulting to being far more positively represented.
In September 2013, “overwhelming public support” changed the meaning of “geek” from describing someone pre-occupied with computing to someone who is passionate about any field of expertise.
“This change in meaning represents a positive change in perceptions about specialist expertise, and is a result of the influence of technology on people’s lives in 2013,” Collins said.
“The evolving meanings of words are as interesting as brand new words to Collins. Often we find that they achieve better longevity too,” said Ian Brookes, Consultant Editor to Collins Dictionary.
“‘Geek’ is a great example of a word that has evolved from having a negative meaning to having a positive one.”
“Geek” beat out other popular buzzwords such as:
- twerking – the erotically suggestive dance move made infamous by Miley Cyrus (though it has been around long before then).
- Bitcoin – the digital currency which has become more prolific in 2013 and is now accepted by more online retailers.
- phablet – devices which are too large to be considered smartphones, and too small to be considered tablets.
- Black Friday – the Friday after Thanksgiving in the USA; signals the start of the holiday shopping period, and has been adopted by online retailers in the UK and even South Africa.
- Harlem Shake – an Internet meme featuring a cut away to wild dancing after a drop in the beat of Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” track.
Other popular buzzwords in 2013 were “Plebgate”, “Fracker”, “Cybernat”, “Thigh gap”, “Payday Lending” and “Olinguito” – the first new species of carnivore to be identified in the western hemisphere in 35 years.