Twitter has been named the word of the year for 2009 by the Global Language Monitor in its annual global survey of English words and phrases that appear in the media and online.

"In a year dominated by world-shaking political events, a pandemic, the after effects of a financial tsunami and the death of a revered pop icon, the word Twitter stands above all the other words," said Paul Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor, which studies language usage around the world.

"Twitter represents a new form of social interaction, where all communication is reduced to 140 characters. Being limited to strict formats did wonders for the sonnet and haiku. One wonders where this highly impractical word-limit will lead as the future unfolds."

Obama, H1N1, Stimulus and Vampire, also featured in the Top 5 words.

The news comes just a few weeks after the New Oxford American Dictionary announced that 'unfriend' is its 2009 Word of the Year.

Use of social networking sites, specifically Twitter and Facebook, has exploded over the past year.

For example, internet monitoring firm Hitwise, reported that use of Twitter skyrocketed in September as the number of visits to the site grew by 1,170 percent compared to the same month a year earlier.

Last year, the Global Language Monitor listed 'Change' as the top word of 2008. In 2007, the top word was 'Hybrid' and in 2006 it was 'Sustainable'.

Global Language Monitor explained that it picks its list of top words by tracking words and phrases used in the global media, blogs, social networking sites and other online venues. Frequency of usage is rated, along with contextual usage and momentum.

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See also: Millionth English word is Web 2.0