I'm thinking of it here mostly as a gerund (a verb made into a noun by adding -ing), but, of course, the verb itself has been imported too: to kettle - '(for police) to herd protesters/demonstrators into a restricted, exitless area in order to restrain them'. Now, this is fairly new to BrE too, and Michael Quinion wrote about it last December. He traces its use in English to happenings around the London G20 summit in 2009 and notes that it seems to be a calque (loan-translation) from German. When students were protesting and then kettled in London at the end of 2010, a number of American readers of internet newspapers contacted me to ask what it meant. A year later, American newspapers use the word to describe the treatment of Occupy Wall Street protesters. This Gawker piece uses the similar-though-not-police-related AmE word corral in its headline, then explains the police procedure as kettling in the article.
Kettling makes an ideal SbaCL WotY for two reasons:
- It's a word of this year. Other nominees like gobsmacked have been slowly making their way into AmE for a number of years. Kettling is very 2011.
- America didn't really need it (we had corral), but took it anyway. This is the usual complaint about AmE imports to BrE: "Why use this horrible foreign word when we have perfectly good words from OUR side of the ocean that we should have PRIDE in?! We're being Americanised!! Or, worse, AMERICANIZED!!" This just goes to show that AmE can both dish it out and take it.
So, congratulations kettling and many thanks to Nancy Friedman for nominating it and other commenters and tweeters for supporting it.
Before turning to the AmE-to-BrE winner tomorrow, let me just mention an AmE-to-BrE also-ran that relates to kettling: occupy. It was nominated by Roger Owen Green and supported by others, but I don't think it qualifies. The meaning of occupy in Occupy Wall Street and later Occupy London Stock Exchange (etc.) is a meaning that was already common to the two dialects. What has been imported is not a new word, or a new meaning of a word, but a new slogan or a new template for a proper name. Definitely influential, but not what I'd consider a suitable WotY.