Merriam-Webster Releases Word of the Year: Feminism

Merriam-Webster Releases Word of the Year: Feminism

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As 2017 comes to a close, the wordsmiths over at Merriam-Webster have released their Word of the Year and nine other words that were in contention.

Some of these words we need more of, some we shouldn’t ever have to hear again and others? Well, I’m not sure how they made the list.

And guess what? Luke Bryan had a big part in one of the words being chosen.

10. FEMINISM

Feminism spiked following news coverage of the Women’s March on Washington, DC in January (and other related marches held around the country and internationally), and follow-up discussions regarding whether the march was feminist, and what kind of feminism was represented by organizers and attendees. The word spiked again when Kellyanne Conway said during an interview that she didn’t consider herself a feminist. In this case, the definition of feminism was itself the subject of the news story—an invitation for many people to look up the word.”

9. COMPLICIT

Feminism spiked following news coverage of the Women’s March on Washington, DC in January (and other related marches held around the country and internationally), and follow-up discussions regarding whether the march was feminist, and what kind of feminism was represented by organizers and attendees. The word spiked again when Kellyanne Conway said during an interview that she didn’t consider herself a feminist. In this case, the definition of feminism was itself the subject of the news story—an invitation for many people to look up the word.”

8. RECUSE

“Lookups of recuse spiked several times this year, and all the spikes were in reference to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

7. EMPATHY

The largest event that drove it into the news happened in January, when Asghar Farhadi, Iranian director of the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film “The Salesman,” refused to travel to the U.S. in protest of the Trump travel ban. His statement ended with a powerful call to empathy “between us and others, an empathy that we need today.”

6. DOTARD

An old-fashioned word was made new again in September when the Korean Central News Agency released comments from North Korean president Kim Jong Un that called Donald Trump “a mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” Dotard(pronounced /DOH-terd/) saw a 35,000% increase in lookups from last year, though it was not the most looked up word of 2017.

5. SYZYGY

Syzygy also saw a small spike at the beginning of December because of the supermoon, which owed some of its large appearance to syzygy.

4. GYRO

Words looked up in the dictionary aren’t always political, and gyro proves it. The word spiked in March when a widely shared sketch from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and country singer Luke Bryan began with them ordering from a New York City food truck and ended with a music video for a song called “I Don’t Know How to Pronounce Gyro.”

3. FEDERALISM

“Words about political and economic systems have been in our top lookups for many years, and this year is no exception. Federalism spiked in September as Congressional squabbling over the fate of the Affordable Care Act took center stage”

2. HURRICANE

Lookups of hurricane often spike during and after hurricanes, though we don’t think this is due to ignorance of what a hurricane is. Rather, we think people are looking up hurricane to get more detailed information. For those who are interested in a technical meaning of hurricane, we define it as “a tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes.”

1. GAFFE

Gaffe spiked in lookups this year starting in February, following a surprising and awkward moment at the climax of the 2017 Academy Awards. The nominees were listed, and then the award for Best Picture was announced for the film “La La Land.” Then, two minutes later, as the stars of “La La Land” were celebrating onstage mid-speech, things were abruptly stopped, and it became clear that the presenters had been given the wrong envelope. The real winner, “Moonlight,” was announced to a completely baffled audience.

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