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Even the American Dialect Society knows how risky home mortgages are these days. The group of wordsmiths chose "subprime" as 2007's Word of the Year at its annual convention Friday.
"`Subprime' has been around with bankers for awhile, but now everyone is talking about `subprime,'" said Wayne Glowka, a spokesman for the group and a dean at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga. "It's affecting all kinds of people in all kinds of places."
As for "subprime," Glowka said it is an odd word — at least as far as linguists are concerned.
The prefix "sub" translates roughly to "below the standard," while "prime" means something close to "the best."
So, according to Glowka, the word really means "far below the best."
"People were saying that students were referring to their tests, `I'm going to subprime this; I'm going to mess it up,'" he said.