Anatoly Liberman on the words of 2012

A Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Whether we accept them or not, many words and phrases took over our conversations in 2012. Word expert Anatoly Liberman joined The Daily Circuit Thursday, Jan. 3 to go over some of the best and worst of 2012.

Here are some of the words that made Liberman's list or were mentioned by our listeners:

"Fiscal cliff"

"It was coined some time ago, then somebody picked it up, began to use it freely," Liberman said. "And then fiscal cliff is a very dangerous thing, so everyone wanted to speak about that cliff and it became common property. Now we're over the cliff and everyone will forget about it."

"Binders full of women"

"Those words ought to be forgotten very soon," Liberman said. "They are like butterflies; they come and die by the end of the day... I'm sure those binders will be forgotten."

The overuse of "artisan," "hand-crafted" and "natural"

"Everything has to be hand-crafted, natural and organic," he said. "That's a catch word, simply a word for advertising. You think if it is hand-crafted, it must be much better, if it is organic it is probably much safer, if it's natural it's much healthier."


A caller said she heard Oprah say it and then it leaked out into normal conversations. "If someone so popular as Oprah uses the word 'trajectory,' then everyone wants to be at least as smart as she is," Liberman said.


While not a well-used word of 2012, Liberman took an interest in it and wrote about it on his blog.


An acronym for the phrase "you only live once," often used in the context of doing dangerous things.


A common British word used to describe male leggings.

Other words mentioned on air:







What's the single word that got into your head and you couldn't get it out? Comment below.


And 2012's word of the year is... (Boston Globe)

Oxford American Dictionaries word of the year: GIF word of the year: Bluster

Merriam Webster's words of the year: socialism and capitalism