Top HollyWords of 2008


‘Jai Ho!’ and ‘Slumdog’ top HollyWORDs of 2008

followed by ‘Hmong,’ ‘Nuke the Fridge’ and ‘Twinkie defense’


6th Annual Survey by the Global Language Monitor


Austin, TX. February 26, 2009.  ‘Jai Ho!’ and ‘Slumdog’ from Slumdog Millionaire top the 2008 list of words from Hollywood that most influenced the English Language in 2008.  Closely following were ‘Hmong’ fromGran Torino, ‘Nuke the Fridge’ from Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and ‘Twinkie defense’ (which followed the events depicted in Milk).   It was the first time that two words from the same movie were ranked in the Top Ten.  Rounding out the Top Ten were:  ‘Djembe’ (The Visitor), “There are no coincidences” (Kung Fu Panda), ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you … stranger,” (The Dark Knight), Posthumous (The Wrestler), and Katrina from Benjamin Button.

“2008 was a remarkable year for words in films, with a Hindi phrase, the name of a Laotian tribe, a West African drum, and a modified quotation from Frederick Nietzsche all making the list,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. 

The Top Hollywords of the 2008 with commentary follow.

  1. Jai Ho! (Slumdog Millionaire) – Literally ‘Let there be Victory’ in Hindi.
  2. Slumdog (Slumdog Millionaire) – Definitely a politically incorrect term for young slum-dwellers in Bombay (Mumbai).
  3. Nuke the Fridge (Indiana Jones and the ) – Indiana Jones surviving a nuclear blast in a lead-lined fridge is viewed as proof that the franchise has run its course (similar to Fonzi’s Jump the Shark episode on Happy Days).
  4. Hmong (Gran Torino) – The name of the mountain-dwelling peoples of Laos who were US Allies in the Indochinese Wars of the 1960-70s.  Pronounced with a silent ‘h’:  mong.
  5. Twinkie Defense (Milk) – The apocryphal outcome of the trial 1979 trial of Dan White, the former San Francisco Supervisor who killed both Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.  The term was never actually used in the trial but was picked up in the media as a stand-in for ‘diminished capacity’.
  6. Djembe (The Visitor) – West African percussion instrument that Tarek teaches Walter.
  7. There are no coincidences (Kung Fu Panda) – Oogway’s solemn pronouncement to Master Shifu
  8. What doesn’t kill you makes you … stranger (The Dark Knight) – The Joker’s twist on the famous Nietzsche epigram.
  9. Posthumous (The Wrestler) – Yes, that really was Mickey Rourke as a Best Actor nominee, well after he had been pronounced dead many a time.
  10. Katrina (Benjamin Button) – The ominous and pervasive threat of Katrina framing the movie demonstrates the depth to which the hurricane has penetrated the American subconscious.


Previous Top HollyWord Winners:

2007     “Call it, Friendo,” from “No Country for Old Men”

2006     “High Five!!! Its sexy time!’ from “Borat!”

2005     ‘Brokeback’ from “Brokeback Mountain”

2004     “Pinot” from “Sideways”

2003     ‘’Wardrobe malfunction” from Super Bowl XXXVIII

The Global Language Monitor uses a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) to track the frequency of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well as accessing proprietary databases.  The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.  

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