Word of the Year: Googleganger

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Published:  February 7, 2011
Word of the Year: Googleganger

We’ve all done it – Googled our name just to see who would come up. A term has been coined to describe the results: Googlegangers. They tend to be individuals living completely different lives to us, sometimes on opposite sides of the world. Perhaps that is why we’re so curious.

Finding someone with our own name can be compared to looking at an imaginary parallel world, a discovery of what could have been if we were born elsewhere, to another family, attended different schools, had different friends and subsequently became a completely different person.

Some of us even feel a bond to that person in some way and will reach out to contact them. Many have been known to add each other as Facebook friends.

In fact, we’re looking up our Googlegangers so often that Macquarie Dictionary felt that it was time to include the act as part of their new edition. Susan Butler, dictionary editor, said it was a witty blend of the words Google and doppelganger, the latter of which became a sensation in late 2009.

This past year several other words and phrases have also been added. Honourable mentions include “tart noir” (a genre of book, starring a tough and sexy woman), “gym bunny” (a colloquial term for people who are obsessed with working out at the gym) and “brand slut” (a slightly crude term intended for the fashion obsessed, who only wear known labels).

When it was time to choose the annual winner for Word of the Year however, the Macquarie Dictionary committee ignored the people’s choice of Shockumentary (a documentary designed to shock the audience with its revelations) and opted for Googleganger instead. The word “provides a glimpse of how we live our private lives in the days of the internet,” Butler said, supporting her claim that it’s more relevant in our current lives.

As the English language changes inline with our society, it’ll be interesting to see which words are chosen to be included after this coming year has come to a close.

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