Socialism and Capitalism Are Merriam-Webster's Most Searched Words of 2012

Socialism and capitalism top dictionary's list of most looked-up words of 2012

By An Phung
|  Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012  |  Updated 10:24 AM EDT
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Socialism, Capitalism Most Searched Words of 2012

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Socialism and capitalism were the most looked-up words of 2012 on Merriam-Webster's website.

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Merriam-Webster's most looked-up words of 2012 are socialism and capitalism.

Traffic for the two words on Merriam-Webster's website doubled this year as the health care debate reached a fever pitch and discussion over "American capitalism" and "European socialism" intensified, Merriam-Webster's editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski told The Associated Press.

"They're words that sort of encapsulate the zeitgeist. They're words that are in the national conversation," Sokolowski told the AP. "The thing about an election year is it generates a huge amount of very specific interest."

Last year's top word was austerity, and before that it was pragmatic

Politically-charged runner ups that made Merriam-Webster's top ten this year include democracy, globalization, marriage and bigot.

Malarkey can credit its popularity to Vice President Joe Biden, who famously used the word during his vice presidential debate with Paul Ryan in October.

Look-ups of malarkey spiked 3,000 percent in a single 24-hour period this year, making it the largest increase of a single word by percentage, the AP reported.

Another popular word inspired by politics — as well as weather — is bluster, which topped Dictionary.com's word searches in 2012. It means, according to the site, 1) to roar and be tumultuous or 2) to to be loud, noisy or swaggering.

The word was chosen based on information gathered from the site, and according to head of content Jay Schwartz, the data reveals what people were thinking about in 2012.  

"People don’t just use online dictionaries to know how to spell something or what a difficult word means," Schwartz told The Huffington Post.

"People often look at definitions to satisfy curiosity, or to reassure themselves. There’s something in re-learning the meaning of a word that has a value beyond simply satisfying the intellect. Being able to name something that has affected you positively or negatively is very powerful."

Other common weather-related word searches on Dictionary.com were hurricane, harbinger, ecosystem and climate.

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