February 3, 2023

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Linguists call “-ussy” the word of the year

While Merriam-Webster declared 2022 the Year of “Gaslighting,” hundreds of linguists at the American Dialect Society chose the suffix “-ussy” as their Word of the Year.

First there was “bussy”, a word made up of “boy” and “pussy”. It was added to the Urban Dictionary in 2007, and this entry claims that it has existed in LGBTQ communities since the ’90s. However, in 2022, the suffix became common online in almost every conceivable context.

andrew garfield puts his hubris into all his roles

— َ (@svpermcn) December 18, 2021

While a few other words and phrases were considered this year, including “quiet quitting” and “Slava Ukraini” – a solidarity slogan – “-ussy” won the vast majority of votes: second place more than four times.

The chair of the American Dialect Society’s New Words Committee told Rolling Stone:

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“[‘-ussy’] Snowball as a playful way of expanding a somewhat taboo concept in all sorts of unforeseen directions — especially in the LGBTQ+ community, where this kind of racy pun is often appreciated. And then, as it spread further thanks to TikTok and other social media, this snowball game continued until it seemed like any word could take the suffix “-ussy”… It’s a great example of the limitless potential of linguistic innovation.”

From the “joy of naughtiness” at using the word to its connection to the LGBTQ community, its balancing power and creativity, supporters had many reasons to vote for it. As Rolling Stone put it:

“Magically granting a vagina to every person, place, and object is just more fun than the sinister meme version of Joe Biden. Wright likes how it uses “feminized body terminology” in a non-pejorative way. “Google euphemisms for vagina, I mean most of them aren’t playful,” she says. In that sense, the rise of ‘-ussy’ is ‘almost a miracle’.”

See Rolling Stone for more information on this story.

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