“‘Woot’ voted Merriam-Webster word of the year” is the newslead that many of us read and scratched our head. I thought, “where do they come up with these things?”
A deeper probe by The Atlantic City Scoop reveals that Atlantic City is the place of this word’s origin, or at least the beginning of its popular usage. According to etymologist Grant Barrett:
“After a couple of examples of “whoot” or “woot” as an onomatopoeic representation of video game sounds in news stories from 1982, the earliest clear-cut use of the word found so far is in the name of the Atlantic City, N.J., entertainment tabloid The Whoot! which shows up in 1988 as a sponsor of the ugliest bartender contest in Philadelphia. In 2003 The Whoot! changed its name to the Atlantic City Weekly. Current AC Weekly editor Michael Epifanio says that The Whoot was so-named by founder Lew Steiner after ‘night owls who would pull all-nighters to scout out the bars, clubs and restaurants and then send the publication out to print.'”
This public interest piece should be widely disseminated. After the national stigma of the “Missing Mayor” any positive press contributes to eliminating that stigma to the nation’s perception of Atlantic City.
(Reading the announcement of “Woot” as word of the year – http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5ileUw1tWfWTY4wpRO8Ak67PixHfQ)
(Reading modern etymologist Grant Barrett’s discovery of Atlantic City’s linguistic influence – http://www.doubletongued.org/index.php/grantbarrett/the_real_history_and_origin_of_woot_and_w00t/)