Merriam-Webster says its top word for 2012 is actually two words that have been around for quite some time. The Springfield-based publisher of dictionaries says “socialism” and “capitalism” topped the list for the most looked up word in the dictionary’s online edition this year. Peter Sokolowski is Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large.
“We don’t always know why a word is looked up. However, when we see a word like a socialism trending on days when, for example, healthcare is being debated or during the presidential election, and it spiked in an enormous way on election night itself, then we can absolutely track the interest in this word with that particular story. And that’s often true with word trends.”
Sokolowski says there were several other words on the top ten list connected to political events, including “democracy,” “marriage,” “bigot,” “globalization” “schadenfreude” and “malarkey.”
“It’s a fun word to say and everybody remembers Joe Biden’s use of that word during the vice-presidential debate. And it showed maybe the single greatest spike of interest of any word on a given day, because that word really caught fire.”
Rounding out Merriam-Webster’s top ten list were “meme” “professionalism” and “touché.”