Merriam-Webster released its list of the 10 most looked-up words in its online dictionary. Socialism and capitalism came joint first on a list heavily influenced by Election 2012.
Political lexicon inundated more than just TV commercials and newspaper columns this election season. It also drove Americans to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, helping them make sense of the vitriol.
On Wednesday, the dictionary publisher shared its Top 10 words, based on the volume of user lookups at Merriam-Webster.com. Political words dominated the list. Sharing the No. 1 spot: socialism and capitalism.
"They're words that sort of encapsulate the zeitgeist. They're words that are in the national conversation," Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, told the Associated Press. "The thing about an election year is it generates a huge amount of very specific interest."
Socialism – “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods” – drew its largest lookup spikes during health-care reform coverage as well as during the political conventions and presidential debates.
Capitalism – “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market” – followed similar traffic trends but was looked up slightly less often.