The Stroppy Editor Word of the Year 2015

It’s time to announce the Stroppy Editor Word of the Year 2015!

Yes, even though it’s still only November, we think it’s somehow acceptable to take a complete overview of the entire year. In doing so, we follow the precedent set long ago by the former organisers of the Bethlehem Most Angelic Baby Contest, whose timing they defended until their dying day and indeed thereafter, in an unspecified circle of Hell.

2015 has been a fantastic year for words. “Happy”, “outside”, “geneticist” and “perturb” are just a few of the words that have seen use this year.

Our Word of the Year judges weighed the merits of a diverse shortlist of highly impressive words, but were ultimately swayed – descriptivists that they are – by usage. So, after much debate, they decided that the winner is… “the”!

Extensive research showed that “the” was the most popularly used English word this year. Again.

This is the 485th consecutive time that “the” has won this prestigious trophy. We congratulate it on its victory and remind other words that nominations for 2016 are now open.

About “the”

  • “The” is best known as the definite article, although it has recently taken to hanging out with fancy-pants university types and calling itself a determiner.
  • “The” is also often used as an adverb, in phrases such as “the sooner the better” and “none the wiser”.
  • “The” can be pronounced with two different vowel sounds. People usually say it with an “uh” if the next sound is a consonant and an “ee” if the next sound is a vowel – or if they’re questioning the identity of a famous person a friend claims to have met.
  • While English only has one “the”, other languages – less efficient languages – have several words. German, for instance, has six words for “the”. It also, no doubt, has a word for “the torment of schoolchildren as they struggle to learn loads of pointless versions of the same goddamn word”. Or maybe it’s like Eskimos and snow; maybe there’s just so much more definiteness in Germany that they’ve learned to distinguish six different types of it.
  • “The” is an actual fucking word. Yes, I’m looking at you, so-called Oxford so-called Dictionaries.

About the Stroppy Editor Word of the Year competition

The Stroppy Editor Word of the Year competition has been running since 1498, although it was put on hold during the Preposition Wars of the late 1700s, and it was cancelled on grounds of sensitivity after the Infinitive Incident of 1903.

About the judges

The panel of judges included:

  • Lynne Fuss, apostrophe fanatic and greengrocer-botherer
  • Devilled Gwynne, over-seasoned amateur grammarian
  • Joffrey Pullum, linguist and tyrannical Prince of Westeros
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  • Nick Moon  On November 24, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Genius. Wins The Funniest Thing I’ve Read this Year Award, no question. Thanks!

  • boothebookworm  On November 24, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Love this. ‘People usually say it with an “uh” if the next sound is a consonant and an “ee” if the next sound is a vowel – or if they’re questioning the identity of a famous person a friend claims to have met.’ <- this is just beautiful.

  • kendreart  On November 25, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Such a quiet achiever, it’s truly THE word of the year and I applaud thee, the definitive the. And, it looks good too – straight up in capitals and hilly in lower case. Very neat.

  • Niven Dallas... Author  On December 30, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I was taught at school that “the” was just a connection word, and to use it sparingly. I crafted a book and called it “The 9th Place.” All my knowledgeable friends wanted to know where “the” 9th place was.. so I told them… read “the” bloody book. Now they know the answer. The rest is history.

  • paulinebsc  On February 4, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    A well deserved winner. I usually check my work for superflous ‘The’s perhaps I shouldn’t.


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