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Word of the Year 2008: hypermiling

November 10, 2008 |  7:34 am


The New Oxford American Dictionary has selected the 2008 Word of the Year: hypermiling.

Hypermiling is doing everything possible to get the most mileage from your car. If you have a fuel-efficient vehicle (like the Honda Fit, pictured) or a hybrid, that's only the beginning. If you drive the speed limit, keep your car tuned up and keep your tires properly inflated, you're getting closer.

Hypermilers will go further, taking simple get increasingly obsessive measures: They'll drive without shoes to be more sensitive to the gas pedal. They'll remove roof racks to reduce drag. They'll coast down hills. They'll make sure they only park in spaces that they can exit by pulling forward, to avoid having to back up. (If this sounds a bit preposterous, NPR interviewed some hypermilers in June; listen for yourself.)

But hypermiling is not just for obsessive penny pinchers. In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants you to be a hypermiler -- except he calls it an EcoDriver. Schwarzenegger, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Environmental Defense Fund launched a nationwide EcoDriving campaign earlier this year with a helpful how-to ecodrive website. Or maybe that should be how-to hypermile.

That's the problem with new words. "Hypermiling" has been around since 2004, but it's still got competitors in the name-the-trend marketplace. Maybe becoming the 2008 Word of the Year will put it over the top.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Honda