The growing popularity of electronic cigarettes has now sparked the notice of the estimable Oxford Dictionaries, which has chosen "vape" as the word of the year for 2014. The word can be a noun or a verb; it beat out contenders such as "bae" and "normcore."
Noting that e-cigarettes have come a long way since the early 1980s, when the "vape" was first breathed into life, the folks at Oxford Dictionaries say it took awhile for the new market, and the new word, to mature.
"A gap emerged in the lexicon, as a word was needed to describe this activity, and distinguish it from 'smoking,' " according to the dictionary's announcement. "The word vape arose to fill this gap, and it has proliferated along with the habit."
In case you've never frequented a vape shop, the word can apply both to breathing an e-cigarette's vapor and to an e-cigarette device.
"I particularly love watching a word like 'vape' create linguistic knock-on effects, like hearing the word 'tobacco' now used to qualify 'cigarette,' " says Casper Grathwohl, president of the Dictionaries Division at Oxford University Press. "But this year 'vape' also served as an insightful window onto how we define ourselves."
For more signs of the times, here are the words that Oxford Dictionaries says are the wannabes of 2014:
Used as a term of endearment for one's romantic partner.
A person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.
Relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc. to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment.
The referendum on Scottish independence, held in Scotland on 18 September 2014, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
A trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.
slacktivism, noun, informal:
Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Major news, this just in...
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Oxford Dictionaries have declared their word of the year. They do this every year. It's free publicity for the company, but it also gets people talking about language, so we're suckers for it.
MONTAGNE: The word of the year is vape. That's a noun referring to an electronic cigarette or a verb for inhaling and exhaling vapor from one.
INSKEEP: The editors at Oxford Dictionary say vape was used twice as often this year as last. Sales of these cigarettes have grown rapidly.
MONTAGNE: Now members of the MORNING EDITION staff bring you other trendy words on the short list for word of the year.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Normcore, noun, a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable closing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Slacktivism, noun, actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or a social cause, but regarded as requiring little time or involvement.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Bae, spelled B-A-E, noun, used as a term of endearment for one's romantic partner.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Indyref, noun, an independence referendum, like the one held in Scotland.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Budtender, noun, a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.
INSKEEP: I love this language. The Oxford Dictionaries are just one of the organizations choosing words of the year. Here are some previous favorites.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Podcast.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: Selfie.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Y2K.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: Locavore.
MONTAGNE: The American Dialect Society will be one of those to name a word that epitomizes 2014. It has the longest word of the year tradition. Its choice back in 1992 actually includes an exclamation point.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: Not!
MONTAGNE: That's about how the word is used. You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
INSKEEP: And I'm David Greene, not! Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.