Hypermiler: Word of the Year

Hypermiling” was named the 2008 Word of the Year by the publishers of the New Oxford American Dictionary. It’s defined as the “attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s car and one’s driving techniques.” Hypermilers try to exceed the EPA rating for miles per gallon on their car by doing things like using cruise control, properly inflating their tires, turning off the engine at stoplights rather than idling, and occasionally dangerous or illegal things, like rolling through stop signs or riding close behind big vehicles to cut down on wind resistance.

The word was coined in 2004 by Wayne Gerdes, who runs CleanMPG.com, a website that shares tips for getting the most of a tank of gas.

It’s the second year in row an environment-related word has claimed the title. Last year it was “locavore,” which is someone who eats food primarily grown within a nearby radius.

Other green words that made it to this year’s short list include “staycation,” which is vacationing nearby to reduce fuel usage; “CarrotMob,” a type of gathering where people are invited through the internet to reward an ethical, small local business by patronizing or “mobbing” it all at the same time; “rewilding,” the process of returning an area to its original wild ways in terms of flora and fauna; and “ecohacking,” (also known as geoengineering), which is “the use of science in very large-scale projects to change the environment for the better/stop global warming (e.g. by using mirrors in space to deflect sunlight away from Earth).”