Monday, December 10, 2012

The Two Most-Looked Up Words of the Year Are Exactly What You Think They Are

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 2:18 PM

In a revelation this is shocking to absolutely no one at all, dictionary-makers Merriam-Webster have determined that the most looked-up words of the year happen to be "socialism" and "capitalism." Of course, those are the two words that were thrown about most by politicians on the campaign trail during the seemingly-interminable 2012 campaign season.

From the Atlantic Wire:

This year marks the first time a word duo has been chosen since Merriam-Webster began identifying the year's most looked-up words back in 2003. Sokolowski says, "Sometimes the words don't correlate to one specific story or a specific utterance by a newsmaker but instead are words that are part of the national conversation. That's true of socialism and capitalism, words that trended together, indicating that people were frequently looking up both words in order to compare the definitions." Socialism was looked up more frequently than was capitalism, "but since the trend pattern of capitalism so closely matches the moments when socialism was spiking, they form a natural pair [logically, lexically, and culturally]. Adding them together gives us a powerful example of how people actually use the dictionary," he says. "Every time that health care is in the news, socialism spikes," he adds. "Also, Mitt Romney used the phrase European-style socialism in his stump speech, keeping the word in the news for cycle after cycle."

Following capitalism and socialism, top 10 words of the year (in no particular order, according to Sokolowski) included democracy, globalization, marriage, bigot, meme, touche, schadenfreude, and professionalism. Biden's use of the word malarkey in his vice presidential debate with Paul Ryan didn't make the top 10, but lookups "represented the largest spike of a single word on the website by percentage, at 3,000 percent, in a single 24-hour period this year," writes Italie. Meme, too, spiked because of the debates (and politics and maybe also life in general), "pegged to political-related subjects that included Romney's Big Bird and binders remarks, social media shares of images pegged to Hillary Clinton texting, and Obama's 'horses and bayonets' debate rebuke of Romney in an exchange over the size of the Navy," she explains.

So the most researched words of the year have everything to do with this year's election season—and I can't get past the fact that so many people appear to have looked up the word "marriage" in order to determine it's actual definition. Silly Googlers! Why would you try to find someone on the internet to define marriage if seemingly no two people in this country can agree on its definition?

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