I suspect that many of you have heard of the “Nerd Prom,” the White House Correspondents’ Association’s dinner in Washington, DC, held annually on the last Saturday in April.
Did you know, though, that in addition to the “Nerd Prom,” there is also an annual “Word Prom”?
The “Word Prom” occurs in early January each year when logophiles gather in a jam-packed conference room at the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society to vote on the “Word of the Year” (WotY) for the previous year. This year, word lovers will meet in Salt Lake City from January 4 -7, 2018, and their WotY vote will take place during an Open Meeting of the ADA’s New Words Committee from 5:00 – 6:15 p.m. on January 5th.
Of course, there is plenty of other excitement throughout the word-prom season from late November until the actual Word Prom itself. This year, for example, Collin’s Dictionary has already named “fake news” as their Word of the Year for 2017, and Dictionary.com recently choose “complicit.”
The Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum’s annual countdown of Words of the Year begins this Friday, 12/1. Word nerds can catch all of the excitement HERE as we post daily entries of the most significant and meaningful words that epitomized the year 2017. Our comprehensive inventory of Words of the Year culminates on New Year’s Eve when we post our top choice!
Days later, as Baby New Year is rocking in its crib, word nerds will cap the WotY Season with their choice for the 2017 Word of the Year at the ADA’s “Word Prom.”
Interestingly enough, the idea of a “Word Prom” was first imagined by Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request) in the mid-1800s. He wrote about the notion of an exceptional word in his short poem “One vote for One Word” (below on the left). In his lines, Dickinson compared the idea of a favored word to a prom gown, those over-priced formal dresses purchased for the one-time wear to a high school dance. A sensible purchase? Maybe not – but they sure do dress up even the plainest of Janes (yes, yes, yes – the tuxes prettify the average Joes too).
I’m not sure if Dickinson’s poem inspired the ADA to introduce their Word Prom in 1991; however, it did inspire third cousin Emily to pen her poem “One note from One Bird” (below on the right).
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
One vote for One Word
One better than a Million Words –
A prom gown has – but one wear
By Emily Dickinson:
One note form One Bird
Is better than a Million Word –
A scabbard has – but one sword