London, Jan 10 (Agencies): High school English teachers are crying into their textbooks over the American Dialect Society's choice for 'Word of the Year' - 'App'.

The abbreviated tech slang for a computer or smart phone application beat out another word that would have had language purists tearing their hair out even more. 'Nom' - a chat, tweet, and text-friendly syllable that connotes 'yummy food' - was the runner-up. 

It derives from the Sesame Street character Cookie Monster's sound as he devours his favourite food, and was popularised on blogs such as LOLcats. BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico spawned many 2010 nominees, but none made the final cut, not even 'spillion', defined as an immeasurable number, in reference to the billions of gallons of oil that spilled into the ocean.

App was chosen by the linguist group as the word that best summed up the country's preoccupation last year. Critics complained the word was somewhat stale, while proponents said 2010 was the year the word became omnipresent - with one arguing that her elderly mother knows the term, even though the woman doesn't have any apps.

'Nom' supporters simply liked its cheeriness. 'Some years there's a very clear choice,' said Allan Metcalf, the Dialect Society's executive secretary. In 2001, for instance, the Word of the Year was 9/11. 'I think this past year there wasn't anything clearly dominant, but there's no question 'app' is a very powerful word,' added Metcalf. 'Tweet' and 'Google' were last year's 'Word of the Year' and 'Word of the Decade'.