Runners-up to Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year

AP News
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Posted: Nov 19, 2009 11:08 AM

The runners-up to Merriam-Webster's 2009 Word of the Year (admonish), with definitions from the publisher's collegiate dictionary and, when applicable, the news event or story that generated the interest in the word:

_ Emaciated (adj.): To cause to lose flesh so as to become very thin.

Michael Jackson was described in some news reports as emaciated at the time of his death.

_ Empathy (noun): The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.

President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans after saying that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor would bring a "quality of empathy" to the bench.

_ Furlough (noun): A leave of absence from duty granted especially to a soldier; also: a document authorizing such a leave of absence.

Many government agencies and businesses announced that workers would be given unpaid furloughs to cut costs during the recession.

_ Inaugurate (verb): To induct into an office with suitable ceremonies; to dedicate ceremoniously: observe formally the beginning of, or bring about the beginning of

President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January as the nation's first black president.

_ Nugatory (adj.): of little or no consequence.

_ Pandemic (adj.): Occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.

Public health officials warned of pandemic swine flu.

_ Philanderer (noun): To have casual or illicit sex with a woman or with many women; especially: to be sexually unfaithful to one's wife.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford left the state for five days in June to rendezvous with his Argentine lover. "Late Show" host David Letterman revealed he'd been sexually involved with women from his television program.

_ Repose (intransitive verb): To lie at rest, to lie dead, to remain still or concealed.

The body of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy was brought to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library to lie in repose following his death.

_ Rogue (noun): A tramp or vagrant; a dishonest or worthless person; a mischievous person; a horse inclined to shirk or misbehave; an individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation.

(Note from Merriam-Webster: When used in the phrase "going rogue," the word is used as an adjective. The relevant adjectival sense is: resembling or suggesting a rogue elephant especially in being isolated, aberrant, dangerous, or uncontrollable.)

"Going Rogue" is the title of a new book by former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

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Source: Merriam-Webster.