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Web site picks year's top word

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Special Report: Year in review 

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Weapons of Mass Destruction

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- A U.S. Web site specializing in language named what it called the top word, phrase and name of the year on Thursday, picking them all from the war in Iraq.

"Embedded," as in the reporters assigned to accompany military units during the war, beat out "blog" and "SARS" as the top word of 2003, Web site said.

"Embedded was the best word to distill the events of an extraordinary year into eight simple letters," Paul JJ Payack, president of, said.

Previous top words include 2000's "chad" (from the hanging squares of paper on Florida presidential ballots), 2001's "Ground Zero" (the site where the World Trade Center collapsed) and 2002's "misunderestimate" (a presidential slip of the tongue that became frequent comedy fodder).

"Shock-and-awe," the phrase the U.S. military used to describe the type of campaign it would wage in Iraq, topped other Iraq-related terms like "rush to war," "weapons of mass destruction" and "spider-hole" as the top phrase of 2003.

The name most on people's lips during the year was Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader recently captured in a hole in the ground.

He beat out "Ahh-nold" (as in newly-elected California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) and "W." (as in U.S. President George W. Bush).

The site's lists, created by taking nominations from users around the world and then having them judged by "professional wordsmiths," take some liberties with Bush.

One of 2003's leading words is "Bushisms," to describe the president's oft-satirized verbal style. The site published a list of the president's top-five mispronunciations, including "new-cue-ler" (for nuclear) and "Anzar" (for Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar).

As for 2004, Payack said there was already an early contender. "'Mad cow' was on the list a few years ago, because of what was happening in the U.K. 'Mad cow' could be big next year."

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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