Pluto's Demotion Tapped as 2006 Word of the Year

Two More Moons Discovered Orbiting Pluto
Hubble images revealing Pluto, its large moon Charon, and the planet's two new satellites. The candidate moons aren't visible in the short-exposure image [left], but can be seen in the middle and right-hand images.
(Image: © NASA/ESA/JHU/APL/SwRI)

Pluto is finally getting some respect - fromwordsmiths.

"Plutoed'' was chosen 2006Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society at its annual meeting onFriday.

To "pluto'' is "to demote ordevalue someone or something'' much like whathappened to the former planet last year when the General Assembly of theInternational Astronomical Union decidedPluto did not meet its definitionof a planet.

"Our members believe thegreat emotional reaction of the public to the demotion of Pluto shows theimportance of Pluto as a name,'' said society president Cleveland Evans. "Wemay no longer believe in the Roman god Pluto, but we still have a sense of personal connectionwith the former planet.''

"Plutoed'' won in a runoffagainst "climate canary,'' defined as "an organism or species whose poor healthor declining numbers hint at a larger environmental catastrophe on thehorizon.''

Other words in the running:murse (man's purse), flog (a fake blog that promotes products) and macaca (anAmerican citizen treated as an alien).

Former Senator GeorgeAllen, a Republican who sought reelection last year, was comfortably ahead inpolls until August, when he referred to the son of Indian immigrants as macaca,regarded by some as a racial slur. Allen lost to Democrat Jim Webb.

The 117-year-oldorganization includes linguists, grammarians, historians and independentscholars. In conducting the vote, members do so for fun and not in any officialcapacity of inducting words into the English language.

Last month, an onlinesurvey by dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster declared "truthiness'' the wordof the year for 2006. "Truthiness'' was credited to television satirist StephenColbert, who defined it as "truth that comes from the gut, not books.''

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