‘Blog’ Tops Dictionary’s Words of the Year

‘Blog’ Tops Dictionary’s Words of the Year (YahooNews-Reuters)
Publisher: ‘Blog’ No. 1 word of the year (CNN-Reuters)

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.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Are bloggers self-serving? why, yes we are!!
    Blogger triumpalism at it’s finest.We made it to the dictionary!!: 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 o…

  2. Paul says:

    I dunno, I look up words (that I know) all the time to see what they “really” mean. Just a weird habit I guess.

    Don’t know if these is enough of “us” out there to skew the results though.

  3. Fred says:

    Most of the explanation is probably ignorance, but I frequently look up words I know the definitions of, usually to check spelling, pronunciation or etymology. For example, until I saw your post, I had no reason to know that incumbent was from the Latin incumbere, meaning “to lie down on”. The Merriam-Webster site also provides a convenient link to Thesaurus listings in its definition pages.

  4. Sortapundit says:

    Hhhhhmmmmm…
    In the blogosphere tonight:

    Steve Verdon at OTB complains that ID doesn’t qualify as a scientific theory (damn right).

    Meanwhile, James Joyner notes that the word ‘blog’ has topped Merriam-Webster’s words of the year list.

    Iran is also ta…

  5. Sgt. B. says:

    I’ve got to admit, for a little while I was one of the folks looking up the word “blog”, as in: “What the heck is a blog?”
    Well, I guess I found out, eh?
    Cheers.

  6. Attila Girl says:

    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.

    Charming. Guess we’re 98% fact-free 😉