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Originally published Monday, January 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Pluto now a star with wordsmiths

Pluto is finally getting some respect — not from astronomers but from wordsmiths. "Plutoed" was chosen as 2006's Word of the Year...

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Pluto is finally getting some respect — not from astronomers but from wordsmiths.

"Plutoed" was chosen as 2006's Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society at its annual meeting Friday.

To "pluto" is "to demote or devalue someone or something," much like what happened last year when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto didn't meet its definition of a planet.

"Our members believe the great emotional reaction of the public to the demotion of Pluto shows the importance of Pluto as a name," said Cleveland Evans, president of the society. "We may no longer believe in the Roman god Pluto, but we still have a sense of personal connection with the former planet."

"Plutoed" won in a runoff against "climate canary," defined as "an organism or species whose poor health or declining numbers hint at a larger environmental catastrophe on the horizon."

Other words considered: murse (a man's purse), flog (a fake blog that promotes products) and macaca (an American citizen treated as an alien).

Former U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) was ahead in his re-election campaign when he used "macaca," which some regard as a racial slur, to refer to a son of Indian immigrants who was a volunteer for his opponent. Allen lost to Democrat Jim Webb.

The 117-year-old American Dialect Society comprises linguists, grammarians, historians and independent scholars, among others. Members conduct the vote for fun and not in an official capacity to induct words into the English language.

The society chose "truthiness" as its top word last year. The word is credited to Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert, who defined it as "truth that comes from the gut, not books."

Last month, an online survey by dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster declared "truthiness" the word of the year for 2006.

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