Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Word of the Year: 'Hypermiling'

Real men hypermile. That's the "attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one's car and one's driving techniques," according to the Oxford American Dictionary, which named "hypermiling" the 2008 word of the year. (It beat out terms like "staycation" and "frugalista.") Hypermiling techniques include keeping tires perfectly inflated, killing engines at stoplights, turning off the air-conditioning and driving at a steady speed, with as little rapid acceleration or deceleration as possible. Originally coined in 2004 by a driver named Wayne Gerdes, who has earned several gas-mileage records, hypermiling really caught on in 2008 as gas prices passed $4 a gallon in much of the country. While few drivers are prepared to go as far as the hardiest hypermilers — they'll even coast downhill with the engine off, which is far from safe — the growing popularity of hybrids and smaller cars shows that fuel efficiency is no passing trend.