Kanye West's antics at the Sept. 13 telecast of MTV's Video Music Awards prompted a new addition to the vernacular: to "swift" someone. Inspired by the rapper's rude interruption of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the live telecast, the verb means "to rob someone of their moment of triumph".
The rapper took the stage as Ms. Swift was expressing her thanks and usurped the mic, cutting her off. With the teen country singer shrinking behind him clutching her trophy, West announced, "I'm sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time," before he jumped off the stage back into the crowd.
Taylor Swift had just received the first award of the evening, for Best Female Video.
Preliminary reports show that the verb has quickly been adopted by the hip young urban subculture. "'Ye done swifted that skinny white chick" was heard inside the house shortly after the incident. Further usage following the show was reported.
"Remember that time he swifted hisself wit the AMA," was overheard, followed by "That bein cuz he dissed that other country singer along wit Britney Spears."
The conversation referred to the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, where West was nominated for 5 awards and lost them all. Smarting from the rejection, he complained to the media for several days following the broadcast, claiming that Britney Spears was chosen to open the ceremony over him because "Maybe my skin's not right."
In 2004, he complained backstage to reporters after the American Music Awards, insisting that he was "definitely robbed" of the prize for breakthrough new artist, which went instead to country star Gretchen Wilson.
Reports of further usage prevail. Both Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell have been labeled "swifters" due to their brutal judging styles. Piers Morgan is known for buzzing contestants off America's Got Talent, even when the audience is clapping and cheering their performances. American Idol's Cowell, who is usually the last of the judges to speak, famously deflates performers by disparaging them when they are aglow with praise from his colleagues. In a related development, concerns that new American Idol judge Ellen Degeneres might become another "swifter" or "turn swift" have dominated tweets and blogs since the VMA broadcast.
DeGeneres put a stop to the speculation, declaring "I'm no swifter. I never swifted anybody, and I never will. I would never want to be swifted myself, so I just can't imagine swifting somebody else. It's just downright mean.''
Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell, on the other hand, were quite pleased, reportedly high-fiving one another when informed that they had been dubbed two of entertainment's foremost swifters.