Merriam-Webster has announced its most looked-up words for 2012, reporting that “capitalism” and “socialism” tied for the top query.
We can likely thank Barack Obama for this pairing of most looked-up words as people flocked to the Merriam-Webster site to try and figure out exactly what the heck everyone was talking about when the two words came up in the national debate.
“They’re words that sort of encapsulate the zeitgeist. They’re words that are in the national conversation,” said Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, Peter Sokolowski.
One has to wonder how bad our education system has gotten when so many millions of people have to turn to an online dictionary to learn what capitalism and socialism mean.
Democracy, globalization, marriage and bigot also made the dictionary giant’s top ten.
Joe Biden also gave the website a spike of queries on October 11. You’ll recall during the debate with GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan when Biden said that something Ryan said was “malarkey.” That caused low information searchers to look the word up.
Look-ups of malarkey represented the largest spike of a single word on the website by percentage, at 3,000 percent, in a single 24-hour period this year. The company won’t release the number of page views per word but said the site gets about 1.2 billion overall each year.
Other words in the top ten were meme, touche, schadenfreude, and professionalism.