Socialism and Capitalism Merriam-Webster’s Top Words Of 2012

Originally published: December 5, 2012
Updated: December 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm
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Americans swept up by election-year rhetoric looked up "socialism" and "capitalism" more than any other words in 2012

socialism_capitalism
New York (MorichesDaily.com) — Merriam Webster, the dictionary people, have determined that Americans swept up by election-year rhetoric looked up “socialism” and “capitalism” more than any other words in 2012, with “touché” running in the third spot, dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster announced Wednesday. (“Malarkey,” “marriage” and “schadenfreude” also cracked the top 10, while “meme” earned a spot thanks to a spike related to Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment).

The list, derived from the volume of look-ups on the Merriam-Webster site, reflected the war of words surrounding the presidential election. “Socialism,” the company said, spiked during coverage of health care and jumped after both party conventions and each of the presidential debates. Interest in “capitalism” also rose along the same lines.

“We saw a huge spike for ‘socialism’ on Election Day itself, but interest in both words was very high all year,” says Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large at Merriam-Webster. “Lookups of one word often led to lookups of the other.”

What about “touché”? Are Americans bucking the trend of ever-more-polarized politics and looking for an elegant way to acknowledge that their adversaries in debates are making a solid point? Maybe not so much, according to John M. Morse, president and publisher at Merriam-Webster.

Last year’s word of the year was “pragmatic.”

If you’re keeping record on these things, Dictionary.com last month selected“bluster” as its word of the year.

Oxford American Dictionary has selected “GIF” as its word of the year.

Merriam-Webster’s Top Ten Words of the Year for 2012 are:

  • socialism and capitalism
  • touché
  • bigot
  • marriage
  • democracy
  • professionalism
  • globalization
  • malarkey
  • schadenfreude
  • meme


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