Do You Have a Googlegänger?

It sounds scary but if your name is fairly common, chances are your Googlegänger is out there!

As a writer, part of staying on top of industry trends is paying attention to popular culture, idioms and slang. It’s an important tool to make your content sound fresh and edgy, and plays a role in connecting with readers. But I feel I must express my strong concern over some of the words that are making their way into the American vernacular.

This week, the American Dialect Society (yes, it exists) announced that “subprime” is its 2007 Word of the Year. Most of us are familiar with the word because of the US mortgage crisis. Major mortgage lenders have filed bankruptcy after hundreds of thousands of people defaulted on their subprime loans (usually given to those who don’t qualify for the best rates due to bad credit). So it makes sense that students and hipsters alike use “subprime” to refer to making a mistake.

“I’m going to subprime this” = “I’m going to mess this up”

But my personal favorite nominee for the 2007 Word of the Year has got to be Googlegänger,” which refers to a person with your name who shows up when you Google yourself. I’m also a HUGE fan of the 2006 Word of the Year, “plutoed” (as in “If I keep writing like this, I’m going to get plutoed“). For those who haven’t guessed, it refers to being demoted or devalued, much like its namesake the former planet Pluto, which was kicked out of our solar system after 76 years for not living up to the new definition of a “planet.”

As much as I love words, I can’t imagine any of these being uttered seriously. Except maybe Googlegänger… that just rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it?