With almost a month to go before 2018 ends, it’s probably risky to declare a “word of the year.”
The year has already proved that it’s more than capable of delivering, at any moment, a new crop of signature shocks, outrages and absurdities.
But the Oxford English Dictionary has already weighed in with its word of the year: “toxic.” Dictionary.com opted for “misinformation.” Collins Dictionary submitted “single-use.”
I guess I better offer my word, too.
But first, a quick review:
• “Single-use” (as in plastic bags) does an OK job of summing up the throw-away consumer habits wreaking havoc on the Earth, but it seems too narrowly focused to sum up 2018.
• “Misinformation” adequately describes the rising tide of lies and distortions that lap at our feet every day, but it’s not punchy enough.
• “Toxic” packs a decent wallop and covers more ground than either of them, so I think it’s closer to capturing the flavor of the year.
But my word of the year is “defiant.” More than ever, we seem to be living in a no-apologies, no-compromises, stand-your-ground world.
Donald Trump, as usual, sets the tone, but he was joined this year by many others, including snarling Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, recently unapologetic Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, besieged British Prime Minister Theresa May and unruffled Ohio congressman Jim Jordan.
Defiance was on display in the White House press room (both sides of the podium), at the California governor’s mansion and on both sides of the immigration divide.
It’s not a promising mindset in a toxic, misinformed world.
I also have some runners-up for word of the year.
OK, it’s a number, not a word, but 2020 lurked in the background of almost every big political story this year.
As in: Who’s going to run against Trump?
At the moment, the answer appears to be every Democrat with a national following and a pulse.
No matter who runs, brace for a long, ugly campaign that produces one prevailing sentiment: “Please just let this be over soon.”
The word was everywhere, thanks largely to the mad scramble by Columbus and other cities to land Amazon’s second headquarters. The “winners” were Washington, D.C., and New York City, which had to shower Amazon with obscene amounts of goodies to prevail.
We don’t yet know what incentives will be offered to keep Columbus Crew SC in town.
After decades of talk about monorails, streetcars and trains, Columbus finally got a new form of transit: tiny, two-wheeled electric scooters.
They appeared on sidewalks literally overnight, and pretty soon the streets and sidewalks were abuzz with riders and motorists complaining about them.
Let’s hope it’s not a toxic mix.
Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.