The word of the year is “kamitteru”.
Every year, the publisher Jiyu Kokumin Sha organizes a prize for the buzzword or phrase that seemed to capture the zeitgeist or spread like wildfire around Japan.
The shortlist of 30 nominees was announced last month and now we have the 10 finalists, including the winner.
Kamitteru is a slang phrase popular with kids that became more generally popular after the manager of baseball team Hiroshima Toyo Carp used it to describe the performance of one of his players in June.
It means “godlike”, taking the Japanese word for god (kami) and adding a suffix to turn it into a verb in the present progressive tense. In English, one equivalent proposed is “godding”.
The word stuck with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp during the NPB season after it went on to win the Central League pennant in September, bringing them out of a 25-year pennant-less wilderness.
Other finalists for the word of the year included PPAP (the acronym for Piko Taro’s viral hit Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen) and Pokémon Go, reflecting the Nintendo game that took the world by storm.
The winning word or phrase is chosen by a selection jury from the shortlist drawn up by the panel and publisher, which is known for its annual book of recent terminology and slang.