Fifteen years ago, everybody would agree that the word doge referred to the chief magistrate of Genoa or Venice. Since then, however, a new meaning has stormed the internet: that of "canine", normally associated with memes of Shiba Inus saying cute, truncated phrases. This humorous alteration of dog first traces to a 2005 episode of Homestar Runner, a surreal comedy web series, where the protagonist spells out the word. Five years later, a woman named Atsuko Sato posted pictures of her Shiba with that caption online, and the web quickly turned it into a meme with superimposed text, the rest being history (usage peaked in December 2013). Curiously, there's been some contention over the proper pronunciation. I always thought dohge, but some people pronounce it like dodge, doggeh, dough-geh, and just doggie. It'll be interesting to watch more words with standardized spellings but not pronunciations arise due to the Internet spreading them.
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.