Lifestyle & Belief

Socialism and capitalism top this year's list of most looked-up words


View of the Oxford American College dictionary. The dictionary voted "GIF" as its word of the year.


Nicholas Kamm

One thing Merriam-Webster's list of the most looked-up words of 2012 does? Confirms that there was in fact a US election during 2012.

The two top contenders? Socialism and capitalism. Traffic for the unlikely pair doubled from last year, said the dictionary's editor at large, Peter Sokolowski.

Merriam-Webster began identifying the most looked-up words back in 2003, the Atlantic Wire reported.

"We follow word trends by watching which words rise to the top of the lookup list on an hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly basis," explained Sokolowski to the Associated Press.

Leaving out words that are looked up in large numbers every day of every year (ubiquitous, paradigm, affect, and effect, for example), "what we're left with is a group of words that show spikes of interest that often correspond to current events: news, weather, sports, or entertainment. This is a quantitative measure of vocabulary curiosity," Sokolowski said. 

The popularity of many of the other words on this year's list was influenced by election rhetoric: democracy, globalization, marriage, bigot, meme, touche, schadenfreude, and professionalism.