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2012 Words of the Year: 'Capitalism,' 'Socialism'

Merriam-Webster also cites bigot, meme, and malarkey
By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2012 12:33 PM CST
2012 Words of the Year: 'Capitalism,' 'Socialism'
Merriam-Webster's list of the most looked-up words of 2012 include "meme," "touche," and "malarkey."   (PRNewsFoto/Merriam-Webster Inc.)

The logophiles behind Merriam-Webster have released their list of the most looked-up words of 2012, and at the top is an odd couple: "socialism" and "capitalism." It's the first time two words have shared the title, but the decision was a "no-brainer," because they so often came up during the election and health care debate, says editor at large Peter Sokolowski. Some other tidbits from the list, from the AP:

  • "Malarkey" enjoyed the largest single-word spike of the year by percentage in a 24-hour period (3,000) after Joe Biden used it during his debate with Paul Ryan.

  • Other politically charged terms that made the 2012 list: democracy, globalization, marriage, and bigot. You can thank the gay marriage debate for those last two.
  • Look-ups for the word "meme" more than doubled since last year, in part thanks to the rapid-fire memes (think Big Bird and binders) that came out of the election. The word's creator, Richard Dawkins, is "delighted," though he originally coined the term well before the Internet came to be.
  • Those who got a kick out of Mitt Romney supporters' post-election sorrow may have been among the many who looked up "schadenfreude," a German term that describes the enjoyment of others' despair.
  • One non-political word on Merriam-Webster's list: "touche," which was hilariously misused by a contestant on Survivor to mean "tough luck" rather than "good point."
(More words stories.)

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