Webster's New World® College Dictionary Chooses "Overshare" as the 2008 Word of the Year

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"Overshare" is the name given to TMI (too much information), whether willingly offered or inadvertently revealed. Both a verb and a noun, it is a new word for an old habit made astonishingly easy by modern technology.

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More than you wanted to know. Those personal, overly-detailed revelations of … (fill in the cringeworthy blank) are really more than you wanted to know. But in an era of online social networking and instant digital broadcasts, this type of unsolicited and often embarrassing communication is an inescapable sign of the times.

"Overshare," the 2008 Word of the Year at Webster's New World® College Dictionary, is the name given to "TMI (too much information)," whether willingly offered or inadvertently revealed. It is the word for both the tedious minutiae on personal websites and blogs and the accidental slips of the tongue in public (or even private) situations. Both a verb and a noun, note Webster's New World editors, overshare is a new word for an old habit made astonishingly easy by modern technology. It is yet another product of digital advances that allow people to record and transmit their lives - in words, videos, and graphics - to anyone with Internet access, friend or foe.

So what or who defines an overshare? If oversharing really is "too much information," how much is too much, and does that make the term necessarily pejorative? Ah, say the editors, Webster's New World usage citations indicate otherwise. On social networks online, oversharing becomes an art form. Sharing just the right amount of history otherwise deemed too personal can lead to just the right amount of encounters with compatible people. Sociologists weighing in on the subject are split. Some see it as a healthy quest for intimacy in an all-too-impersonal world while others deem it troublingly narcissistic. The debate itself has spawned or highlighted many other new terms like "Documentation Generation," "Look at Me Generation," "co-rumination," and "navel-gazing." Blogs, vlogs (video blogs), and online journals provide persistent public display of overshares that can be both artful and alarming.

For other top candidates for Word of the Year at Webster's New World, visit its website at http://www.newworldword.com.

Selected by the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other leading newspapers as their official dictionary of choice, Webster's New World College Dictionary represents the finest linguistic scholarship. For more information on the lexicographical process behind the dictionary, Editor in Chief Mike Agnes is available for interviews.

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The Webster's New World family of reference books has been "Defining Your World" for more than fifty years. From its initial mission to provide a commonsense, user-friendly dictionary specifically for American English, Webster's New World has now set the standard for clarity, ease of use, and reliability. Webster's New World is famous for providing a wealth of up-to-date and comprehensive references for the home, office, and classroom as well as pocket references for people on the go. For more information, visit wiley.com. Webster's New World is an imprint of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Adrienne Fontaine
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