Top Television Buzzwords of ’08

Beijing tops ObamaSpeak as the Top Teleword of the Year followed byfacts are stubborn things’, ‘it is what it is,’ and Phelpsian.  


The Global Language Monitor’s Fifth Annual Analysis


Austin, Texas, USA.   September 23, 2008. The Global Language Monitor ( today announced the top words impacting Global English for the recently ended 2008 television season.  The Top Teleword was Beijing as in Beijing Olympics, an appropriate honor for the most watched television program of all time followed by ObamaSpeak, John Adams’ phrase ‘facts are stubborn things’, the ubiquitous  it is what it is,’ and Phelpsian.  Rounding out the Top Ten were Third Screen, Vincible, Lip Synching, Lipstick (as ‘in on a pig’), and IPTV. 

“As always, words stemming from Television’s three screens, impacted Global English in interesting, innovative, and always fascinating ways,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “This year, two events dominated television, the Beijing Olympics and the US Presidential Elections”

The Top Telewords of the 2008 season with commentary follow:

1.     Beijing: The Beijing Olympics were the most-watched television show of all time with some 4.7 billion global viewers. 

2.     ObamaSpeak:  Words coined to describe the Obama Barack phenomenon, including obamamentum, obamabot, obamacize, obamarama, and obamaNation.

3.     “It is, what it is”:  Everywhere on the tube this year from “The Wire” to the Roger Clemons Steroid in Baseball Congressional hearings.

4.      “Facts are stubborn things”:  John Adams’ quaint turn of phrase for ‘it is what it is’.  The John Adams biopic won the most Emmys ever for a single program.

5.     Phelpsian:  New word coined to describe the Phelpsian Pheat of winning eight golds in a single Olympics.

6.     Third Screen:  Watching Television on your TV (first screen), your computer (second screen), and now your mobile device, the third screen.

7.     Vincible:  The invincible New England Patriots prove vincible after all, with a shocking upset by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

8.     Lip Synching:  The fate of Lin Miaoke, the little girl who didn’t sing the song the whole world sings in the Olympics opening ceremony.

9.     Lipstick:  On a pig or otherwise, a media sensation this year for a supposed characterization of Republican VP aspirant Sarah Pallin.

10.  IPTV:  Internet protocol-based television, the wave of the future.


The Top Telewords of previous years were:

2007:  “Surge” from the Iraq War political and military strategy, “That’s Hot®” Paris Hilton’s popular expression that is now a registered trademark, and “D’oh!” from The Simpsons and The Simpsons Movie.

2006:   ‘Truthiness’ and ‘Wikiality’ from  the Colbert Show followed by ‘Katrina’, ‘Katie,’ and ‘Dr. McDreamy’.

2005:  ‘Refugee’ from the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, followed by ‘Desperation’ from Desperate Housewives and ‘Camp Cupcake’ from the on-going Martha Stewart follies.

2004:  “You’re Fired!” edged “Mess O’ Potamia” followed by “Girlie Men,” “God,” and “Wardrobe Malfunction”.

About The Global Language Monitor

Austin-Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English. A worldwide assemblage of language professionals, teachers, wordsmiths and bibliophiles, supports the GLM to help monitor the latest trends in the evolution (and demise) of language, word usage and word choices.

English has become the first truly global language with some 1.35 billion speakers as a first, second or auxiliary language.  Paul JJ Payack examines its impact on the world economy, culture and society in A Million Words and Counting (Citadel Press, New York, 2008).

For more information, call 1.925.367.7557, send email to, or visit


Contact: Paul JJ Payack

(925) 367-7557 Phone email

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