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c.1200, from Old Norse lypta "to raise," from Proto-Germanic *luftijan (cf. Middle Low German lüchten, Dutch lichten, German lüften "to lift;" Old English lyft "heaven, air," see loft). The meaning "steal" (as in shop-lift) is first recorded 1520s. Related: Lifted; lifting.
late 15c., "act of lifting," from lift (v.). Meaning "act of helping" is 1630s; that of "cheering influence" is from 1861. Sense of "elevator" is from 1851; that of "upward force of an aircraft" is from 1902. Meaning "help given to a pedestrian by taking him into a vehicle" is from 1712.
An upward force acting on an object. Lift can be produced in many ways; for example, by creating a low-pressure area above an object, such an airplane wing or other airfoil that is moving through the air, or by lowering the overall density of an object relative to the air around it, as with a hot air balloon. Compare drag. See also airfoil, buoyancy. See Note at aerodynamics.