Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Star No More

Sometimes nouns can become so popular and recognizable we can hardly resist the urge to give them wings by adding a couple of extra letters and turning them into verbs. For example, you can be easily be punk'd or spammed and, even without the extra letters, you can Google something or email someone.

We could probably assemble a lot more of them, but that's not where I was going with this post. I wanted to mention just one such noun-to-verb transformation that entered the vernacular in 2006: you can now be "plutoed." In fact, the American Dialect Society (who would have thunk there was such a social organization) selected "plutoed" as its 2006 Word of the Year.

To be "plutoed" is "to demote or devalue someone or something." And that is exactly what the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union did to the ex-planet, Pluto, when they decided the puny sphere failed to meet its definition of a planet.

It was not disclosed how tight the balloting ended up, but plutoed did squeeze out a victory in a runoff against "climate canary," which was defined as "an organism or species whose poor health or declining numbers hint at a larger environmental catastrophe on the horizon." Interestingly, the American Dialect Society also considered: murse (man's purse) and flog (a fake blog that promotes products). Try using all those in a sentence.

It kind of gives you a warm feeling to see a demoted planet rise from its own ashes to become a Word of the Year, doesn't it? Looks like it was the Astronomical Union that ended up getting plutoed.