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Hypermiling: 2008 Word of the Year

Hypermiling: 2008 Word of the Year

It’s pretty hard to imagine now, with gas prices dropping below $2 in an area where it was dangerously close to $5 a gallon just a few months ago, but finagling your money’s worth from fuel might just have been America’s favorite summer pastime.

Now the impact of that will forever be reflected in our lexicon, since the New Oxford American Dictionary has made “hypermiling” its word of the year for 2008.

To hypermile is the act of maximizing gas mileage by doing things to your car and adjusting your driving techniques to conserve fuel. Hypermilers keep their tires properly inflated, remove the roof rack from their vehicles, and turn engines off rather than letting them idle at stoplights, according to a statement from the dictionary.

The term was coined in 2004 by Wayne Gerdes, and the dictionary reports that it has attracting a following of people who “push their gas tanks to the limit” in an effort to exceed EPA ratings for miles per gallon. It is particularly popular among hybrid drivers, and there are even competitions for hypermiling champions who boast MPGs of up to 100.

The other finalists were:

Frugalista: Person who leads a frugal lifestyle but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying second-hand, growing own produce, etc.

Moofer: A mobile out-of-office worker, as in someone who works away from a fixed workplace, via BlackBerry, a laptop, or Wi-Fi. Also can be used as a verbal noun, as in moofing.

Topless meeting: A meeting in which the participants are barred from using their laptops, BlackBerries or cell phones.

Toxic debt: Mainly sub-prime debts that are now proving so disastrous to banks. They were parceled up and sent around the global financial system like toxic waste, hence the allusion.

For more information on hypermiling:
Hypermiling Tips to Save Gas, Money and the Planet
Hypermiling Myself to Divorce Court

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Jana Ballinger

Jana Ballinger has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and copy editor for daily newspapers. She lives in a vintage house in Northern California with her husband and an orange cat.


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3:44PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011


1:03PM PST on Nov 25, 2008

With regard to the price of gas in the US and how it has now atlast come down to under $2. a gallon.
Here in the UK gas has also come down to 92p a litre. Now there is about 4 litres to a US gallon
so if you were paying our price and using the present exchange rate of $1.42us to the pound sterling, your gas would now be costing you about $5.22 a gallon. I hope that makes you feel better.
Bob Newholm, Derbyshire England.

8:04AM PST on Nov 25, 2008

topless meeting? :) I know it's a play on words, but it's still making me giggle (my husband and I have a 5-year-old's sense of humour)

I guess we're not actively hypermilling (we remove things from the trunk when possible, but it gets filled with camping, winter (tire chains), and dog gear; the tires need some air, but the roof rack is in the trunk; turning off the car when stopped would likely cause all of the other vehicles in NY/NJ to honk more than usual; and we don't drive 5-10 miles under the speed limit because that would alert the police--it's a sign of intoxication).

Good list, and thanks for the giggle--I really needed it this morning!

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