Most Looked Up Words of 2012: Socialism and Capitalism Top the List

Language is ever evolving. New words go in and out of vogue, phrases are coined, and slang changes, like, all the f-ing time. In 2006 you'd never drop an "f-bomb" while chatting about "Super PACs"; those words just didn't exist. Or, if I tell my mom that two of my friends "hooked up," she'll think that means they met up with one another at a previously determined location and maybe they had a coffee. Don't even get me started on "bromance," what ever did we do without the word bromance? 

While new words are coined, old words also come back into use. Thank you Joe Biden for introducing a new generation of youngsters to the word, "malarkey." And due to national conversations, social trends, international news, certain words become the definitive words of certain years or eras. In 2011, the most looked up word in Merriam-Webster was "austerity." Not a huge surprise when you consider the state of the world.

The most looked up words for 2012 were announced on Wednesday, and with #election 2012 ruling the year in the news it should come as little surprise that the most looked up words were: "socialism," and "capitalism." Traffic on the dictionary website to these two words doubled from the 2011 numbers, thanks to 1) the health care debate and 2) the ongoing comparisons between "European socialism," and American capitalism." 

Other words that made the top 10 list were, "bigot," "marriage," "globalization," and "democracy." As for what words we can expect to see next year, well we'll just have to see how lanugage ebbs and flows during 2013. Obvi.

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Elena Sheppard

Elena is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Mic. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Time Out New York, The New York Times Upfront, ABC News, and various travel publications. She is also a Princeton alum, a former Thailand resident, and a Brooklyn native.

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