Top 20 memes of 2012: Words, terms and phrases that first entered our vocabulary during the year

Every year new phrases, words and terms pop up that we've never seen or heard before and become a part of our collective vocabulary.

Some of them become so popular they instantly attain "meme" status.

Here is a list of 20 new phrases that appeared in 2012.

1) Gangnam Style
It was impossible to escape Korean rapper Psy and his oddball hit "Gangnam Style." If you're wondering what "Gangnam Style" means, Gangnam is an affluent region of South Korea similar to Beverly Hills.

The music video rapidly became the most popular YouTube video of all-time, gaining nearly one billion views in under six months.

2) "Binders full of women"
During the presidential debates, Mitt Romney spoke about his efforts to hire women for his cabinet and mentioned the phrase "binders full of women." The phrase instantly started trending on Twitter. Not long after the debates, many people were spotted dressed as a "binder full of women" for Halloween.

3) "Redneckognize"
"Honey Boo Boo", the TLC show that centers around the chubby third-grader, Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, has introduced a few new phrases to us all this year.

One would be "You better redneckognize!", resulting from the combination of "redneck" and "recognize".

4) "Go-go juice" Another gem from "Honey Boo Boo". It is Thompson's special blend of Mountain Dew and Red Bull that gives her that energetic boost needed to compete in the child beauty queen circuit.

5) "Fiscal cliff"
This is one term that most of us wish had not been on our minds this year. Last year Congress and President Obama agreed to a program that would reduce the federal deficit (the "fiscal cliff"). If an agreement isn't reached in time, tax rates will automatically rise for most Americans next year and major spending cuts will automatically kick in for most government spending programs.

6) "Call Me Maybe"
The pop smash hit "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen spawned all kinds of parody and tribute cover versions. One cover of the song performed by the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders was then covered by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan . (

7) "Legitimate rape"
Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin drew fire for his controversial comments about rape during a television interview where he said a woman's body is capable of preventing pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape."

8) "Frankenstorm"
Hurricane Sandy was headed for the Northeast just before Halloween. Meteorologists knew that if the hurricane merged with the strong cold front that was present, it would sit over New England for days and become a monster storm. Unfortunately that is what happened and caused massive destruction misery for millions of people.

9) Pinterest
Pinterest was the breakout social network of 2012. According to CNN, Pinterest's unique site visitors grew 400% from September to December 2011 and continued to grow into 2012.

10) "Pink Slime"
A former meat inspector with the USDA coined the term "pink slime" when composing an email about the meat filler to a co-worker a decade ago.

The beef filler had been used for decades without a catchy name. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver hosted an eye-opening segment about "pink slime" on ABC's "Food Revolution" and soon after, fast food chains like McDonald's vowed to discontinue using the filler in their food.

11) "The 47%"
Mitt Romney was secretly recorded during a fundraiser dinner where he made the following statement that caused a lot of controversy this year:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

12) " 50 Shades of Grey "
The book by E.L. James had lots of women's tongues wagging this year. The steamy book, described by some as "mommy porn," flew off the shelves in 2012 becoming a top-seller.

13) Mars rover Curiosity
NASA's rover Curiosity brought back the most stunning, detailed images of Mars yet. View the photos here: (

14) "Trampire"
Following the split of actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, after Stewart admitted to cheating on Pattinson, actor Will Ferrel appeared on the hit talk show Conan. Ferrel feigned despair over the infidelity and break-up and called Stewart "a trampire," referring to her role in the Twilight franchise.

15) " McKayla  is not impressed"
During the 2012 Olympics, gymnast McKayla Maroney scored a silver medal in the vault competition. Her momentary reaction to not winning the gold medal was a smirk/scowl that was

captured by photographers and almost instantly drove critics to call her "disrespectful" and "bratty".

The expression quickly became an internet meme where she was edited into dozens of different photos showing her displeasure at various subjects and events. View a big collection of her "not impressed" photos at

16) "Blade Runner"
The term "Blade Runner" isn't anything new when it references the famous sci-fi movie from years ago. But in 2012 it took on a new meaning as the nickname of South African runner Oscar Pistorius at the Olympic games. Pistorius is a double-amputee. His legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old because of a bone defect. He runs on special carbon fiber blades, which is where he got the nickname.

17) " Eastwooding "
The term "Eastwooding" means talking to an empty chair. The term sprang up following the Republican National Convention in August, when actor Clint Eastwood gave a speech, addressing an empty chair.

Eastwood told local California newspaper The Pine Cone, "There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down. When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. 'I'll just put the stool out there and I'll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn't keep all of the promises he made to everybody.'"

18) " Statosphere jump "
Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner broke world records when he became the first person to break the sound barrier without the aid of a machine after he jumped from the edge of space.

Baumgartner's jump also broke the record for biggest event in live web video, as over eight million people watched the live stream on YouTube.

19) "Bunch of malarkey"
Vice President Joe Biden smiled and laughed his way through much of the vice presidential debate with Republican candidate Paul Ryan. After Biden said, "With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey," the phrase became one of the top Google searches.

20) "Timeline"
Facebook's introduction of the "timeline" in 2012 changed the way users' "walls" appeared, displaying posts, updates and information in chronological order from current day -- all the way back to birth.

Print this article Back to Top

More Year in Review