Sarah Palin’s reality show scored huge ratings for its premiere Sunday night, while the guardians of usage at the New Oxford American Dictionary awarded the former Alaska governor the higher-brow distinction of coining 2010’s “word of the year” – “refudiate” – via her Twitter account.According to TLC, roughly 4.96 million people tuned in to watch the first episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” That’s the biggest premiere in the channel’s history.
And as if the ratings triumph weren’t enough, today the New Oxford American Dictionary declared “refudiate” the top word in 2010 – a verb that Palin apparently invented.
The former governor used the word in a Twitter message last summer, calling on “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” a planned mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York. When critics pounced on the made-up verb, Palin deleted the Tweet and replaced it with one that called on Muslims to “refute” the site – even though that usage made no sense, either, since to refute is to prove something to be untrue.
But in a release today, the New Oxford American Dictionary defended Palin’s use of the word. “From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used ‘refudiate,’ we have concluded that neither ‘refute’ nor ‘repudiate’ seems consistently precise, and that ‘refudiate’ more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of ‘reject,’ ” the New Oxford American Dictionary said in a press release.
And lest you think the New Oxford editors were only hailing “refudiate” as a publicity stunt, let the record show that Palin’s coinage was also named to the honor roll of the Global Language Monitor project – together with terms such as “spillcam” and “vuvuzela.”