Language lessons across the USA and Canada

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Word of the Year 2011

The US and UK have agreed on something – the Word of the Year 2011!

So what’s the word? Squeezed middle.

Americans may be unfamiliar with this term, used by the British Labour Party’s leader Ed Miliband. It describes “those seen as bearing the brunt of government tax burdens while having the least with which to relieve it”. The squeezed middle are in between the rich (able to weather financial downturn) and the poor (who are eligible for government assistance).

Other words that made the US shortlist include:

Arab Spring n.: a series of anti-government uprisings in various countries in North Africa and the Middle East, beginning in Tunisia in December 2010. [After Prague Spring, denoting the 1968 reform movement in Czechoslovakia.]

Fracking n.: the forcing open of fissures in subterranean rocks by introducing liquid at high pressure, especially to extract oil or gas. [Shortened < hydraulic fracturing.]

The 99 percent: the bottom 99% of income earners, regarded collectively.

What’s your word of 2011?

(Source: Oxford University Press)