To use a football metaphor, it’s the fourth quarter of 2011 and the clock is ticking. Less than two weeks left, and no timeouts. In other words, it’s Tebow time.
Thanks to the astonishing fourth-quarter exploits of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (right), his name has become a word—not only a noun, but also a verb.
And that could lead to a last-minute come-from-behind victory for Tebow when the American Dialect Society chooses its Word of the Year 2011 in Portland, Ore., on January 6.
The noun, in the combination Tebow time, means the moment when a heretofore indifferent performer amazingly snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. The verb, to Tebow, means to perform that feat. We find that verb, for example, in these recent fan comments on the Broncos’ Web site:
“Can’t wait for the Patriots to get Tebowed……20-13 DEN”
“Low 4th quarter confidence plus a shaky pass defense make them prime candidates for getting Tebowed if the score is close.”
Tebow time is a phenomenon not yet two months old, starting with the Broncos’ October 23 come-from-behind victory over the Miami Dolphins.
And that’s not all. That same victory prompted another meaning for the verb, in the form Tebowing.
For it happens that Tebow, an evangelical Christian, gets down on one knee in an attitude of prayer when a game is over. After that victory on October 23, Broncos fan Jared Kleinstein was inspired to imitate his example. According to the official Web site:
“Immediately following the game, Jared decided he and his friends needed to pay tribute to Tebow for what had just transpired, so he asked his friends to join him outside for a quick photograph. Following Jared’s example, they all got down on one knee, put their heads to their hands, took a picture, and thus, ‘Tebowing’ was born. The next day, Kleinstein launched tebowing.com and the rest is history.”
The Web site shows pictures of people Tebowing everywhere. It sells T-shirts that highlight parts of that word: “TeboWINg for Denver” and “TeBOWing for greatness.” There’s a Facebook page for Tebowing too, with 3,000 followers.
* * *
Now that Time has chosen the Protester as Person of the Year, it seems all the more likely that the American Dialect Society will go with occupy as its Word of the Year. Great minds think alike. But if Tim Tebow continues his winning ways, Tebow time and Tebowing could occupy the space anticipated for occupy.
Of course, Tebow time and Tebowing could decline as quickly as they arose. Sunday’s fourth-quarter failed finish against the New England Patriots, where Tebow time showed none of its magic, might be the start of its collapse.
Prudently, therefore, the American Dialect Society waits until the year is actually over to choose its WOTY. After all, some other word could miraculously come from behind in its own Tebow time during the last days of the year.
Return to Top