Before a fresh page turns on a new year, a conclusion to the old year must be written.
I’m speaking figuratively, of course, but Merriam-Webster offers something a bit more literal.
The “sassiest dictionary on Twitter” welcomed 2018 with a reflection on 2017’s “words of the year.” Although these sorts of essays are typical hot-take fodder for a ravenous SEO maw, this particular piece offers an opportunity to pause the internet’s infinite conversation.
The words we speak and write and define (and redefine) shape our experiences in profound but subtle and fluid ways. Takes on the words of the year are certainly diversions, but they’re also attempts to ask us to consider why we use the words we use…and what we mean when we use them.
Merriam-Webster tells us that 2017 was a year underscored by the widespread rediscovery of feminism, by the uncomplicated meaning of complicit, by the technical definition of recuse, by the relentless search for empathy, by the high-stakes insult dotard, by the celestial experience of syzygy, by the multifaceted-if-also-mundane gyro, by the confusing denotations of federalism, by the inescapability of a hurricane, and by the omnipresence of the gaffe.
The page may have already turned on 2017, but we find that we’re still speaking and writing and defining (and then redefining) people and politics and prose. After all, a conclusion is not actually an ending, and we're looking forward to reading—and writing—the next chapter. We hope you are, too.
English PhD, former arts administrator, obsessive cook, native East Coaster, mom to two rabblerousers.
English PhD, former high school teacher, obsessive organizer, native Midwesterner, mom to three troublemakers.