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