‘Blog’ Tops Dictionary’s Words of the Year
A four-letter term that came to symbolize the difference between old and new media during this year’s presidential campaign tops U.S. dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster’s list of the 10 words of the year. Merriam-Webster Inc. said on Tuesday that blog, defined as “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks,” was one of the most looked-up words on its Internet sites this year. Eight entries on the publisher’s top-10 list related to major news events, from the presidential election — represented by words such as incumbent and partisan — to natural phenomena such as hurricane and cicada.
Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster compiles the list each year by taking the most researched words on its Web sites and then excluding perennials such as affect/effect and profanity. The company said most online dictionary queries were for uncommon terms, but people also turned to its Web sites for words in news headlines.
“That is what occurred in this year’s election cycle … with voluminous hits for words like ‘incumbent,’ ‘electoral,’ ‘partisan,’ and, of course, our number one Word of the Year, ‘blog,”‘ Merriam-Webster President and Publisher John Morse said in a statement.
Americans called up blogs in droves for information and laughs ahead of the Nov. 2 presidential election. Freed from the constraints that govern traditional print and broadcast news organizations, blogs spread gossip while also serving as an outlet for people increasingly disenchanted with mainstream media.
I understand ‘blog,’ since it’s a relatively new term and thus one that would be unfamiliar to all but the cognoscenti. And even ‘cicada,’ given their 17-year cycle. It’s rather sad that people are having to look up everyday words like ‘incumbent, ‘electoral,’ and ‘partisan,’ however.