Merriam-Webster, yes the dictionary not a person, is able to track the words that people lookup, and so determine which is in fact the most popular. To quote their press release …
SPRINGFIELD, MASS., December 3, 2013—Merriam-Webster Inc., America’s leading dictionary publisher, has announced its top ten Words of the Year for 2013. This year’s list was compiled by analyzing the top lookups in the online dictionary at Merriam-Webster.com and focusing on the words that showed the greatest increase in lookups this year as compared to last year. The results, based on approximately 100 million lookups a month, show that the words that prompted the most increased interest in 2013 were not new words or words used in headlines, but rather they were the words behind the stories in this year’s news.
Ok ok … I get it but what was the word?
The Word of the Year, with the greatest increase in lookups, may surprise many people: science.
Ah … now that is encouraging.
OK, so this all prompts a few more questions …
Why that word?
Science, according to Merriam-Webster Editor-at-Large Peter Sokolowski, is the word behind the news in 2013.
“It is a word that is connected to broad cultural dichotomies: observation and intuition, evidence and tradition,” Sokolowski said in a statement. “A wide variety of discussions centered on science this year, from climate change to educational policy. We saw heated debates about ‘phony’ science, or whether science held all the answers.“
The result, he said, was a 176 percent increase in lookups of the word “science” in 2013 compared with 2012.
How do they define that word?
science noun \ˈsī-ən(t)s\
: knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation
: a particular area of scientific study (such as biology, physics, or chemistry) : a particular branch of science
: a subject that is formally studied in a college, university, etc.
Yep, thats fine … and they also have a longer definition as well.
Their press release talks about a top 10, what other words popped up?
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2013:
Click on each of the other words in the Top Ten List for their definitions in Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary:
So there you have it then, the number one word is “science”. I guess that is a not just a metaphor, or a paradox, but confirms the integrity of our daily rapport of cognitive communication, science is no longer a niche form of communication.
Meanwhile over at the Oxford English Dictionary, their word of the year is apparently Selfie, because the frequency of the word in the English language increased by 17,000% since this time last year. Not bad for a word that only first appeared in 2002.