My picks for words of 2017

From track fault to augmented reality, this year has been especially word-rich for me

To me, 2017 will be the year of words.

Actually, every year is a year of words because I write. But this year has been especially word-rich.

American media organisations have picked #metoo, tribalism, whatever and snowflake as their words of the year.

Here in Singapore, we don't have the kind of savage political wars that forge new weaponised words, but we do quite well in giving old words new meanings and I've also coined a couple of new ones.

Here are my picks for words of this year.


1 Bus: The new MRT, but more reliable.


2 Signal fault: Stay home.

3 Track fault: Like signal fault, but different.

4 Trainlah: The correct response when asked why one is late, again.

5 Shovetogenarian: Old person who cuts the MRT queue so he can grab a seat.

6 Uber and Grab: Apps that let you stay in touch with friends you wouldn't normally text, by forcing you to ask around for promo codes.

7 Decycling: The act of converting a bike-sharing bicycle into some other object.

For example: "A resident of a HDB home was found decycling Ofo bikes into hangers for potted plants."

8 Augmented reality: A technology that died along with the Pokemon Go craze.

9 Modern urban style: "We hired this guy who likes to cover walls with graffiti."

10 Faux-m: That stuff on top of cheese bubble tea

11 Switcherbrew: When a bubble tea or frozen yogurt chain closes, then comes back with a new name and its management tries to convince you it's the same thing, but better.


1 Livestream: A new kind of reality television, except nothing happens.

2 Just sharing: "I take no responsibility for what happens after I tell this WhatsApp group that some daily habit of theirs will kill them and their children."

3 Unauthorised access: "Now that the media found out that we got hacked and customer records were leaked, I suppose we have to say that something did happen."

4 Facebook: Instagram for old people.

5 Twitter: Old people, arguing.


1 Bittercoin: The despair and anger one feels at having missed out on the cryptocurrency gravy train.

2 Despacito: The pang of pain you get as an older person when every Top 40 song sounds like every other song. Or maybe you are hearing the same song played everywhere, but you can't tell the difference any more. For example, "The more Dan's kids fiddled with the car radio, the more he was overcome by a deep sense of despacito."

Related word: "Ed Sheeran", the default answer, as an older person, when asked who the guy singing is.

3 Zombiedragon: When a popular television series is continually sadistic to its viewers, but they have to admit it was the right thing to do at the time.

4 Himtoo: The misery of finding out that an actor you like is a sex pest. For example: "Dan was so mired in himtoo, he couldn't bear to switch on the television."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 24, 2017, with the headline 'My picks for words of 2017'. Print Edition | Subscribe