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Don't misunderestimate Bushisms

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Misunderestimate  To seriously underestimate.
Embetter  To make emotionally better -- the opposite of embitter.
Resignate  As in "They said this issue wouldn't resignate with the people."
Foreign-handed  As in "I have a foreign-handed foreign policy."

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Don't "misunderestimate" Dubya. Those verbal Bushisms are beginning to "resignate" with the American people. Maybe they'll even "embetter" the English language.

They may have started out as verbal slip-ups but several of President George W. Bush's mangled phrases found their way on Tuesday to a list of the top words of 2002.

"There are already 11,000 instances of 'misunderestimate' on the Web. The more people use words, whether jocularly or seriously, the more likely they are to enter the language and last for generations," said Paul J.J. Payack, chairman of, which compiled the list.

Payack, a man who refuses to misunderestimate the power of a president to shape the language, said, "Our lists attempt to capture those ... innovations in word choice and usage that tell us something about ourselves."

The list of most important words of 2002 was drawn up with help from visitors to the Web site and from the site's group of linguists, who monitor the use of the English language around the world.

They include the so-called Bushisms; misunderestimate (to seriously underestimate), embetter (to make emotionally better -- the opposite of embitter), resignate (as in "They said this issue wouldn't resignate with the people") and foreign-handed (as in "I have a foreign-handed foreign policy").

In non-Bushisms, the post-September 11 world gave birth to "threat fatigue," while America's corporate and financial shenanigans introduced the verb to nasdaq (as in "His fortune was nasdaqued"), Nasdaq being the tech-heavy stock market.

There is also that well-known accounting practice disease known as Enronitis, and dot-communism (the conviction that everything on the Web should be free or, at least, paid for by someone else.)

But the most frequently used word on the planet, whatever the native language, is still "OK."

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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