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Top 10 most looked-up words of 2012? Lots of political malarkey. (+video)


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During the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden said to Paul Ryan: “With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey.”

Defined as “insincere or foolish talk” – malarkey was a “one-week wonder” word, said Sokolowski. The No. 8-ranked word had the largest spike of lookups in a 24-hour period: 3,000 percent.

This year’s presidential debates inspired three viral memes: Romney “firing” Big Bird, his “binders full of women,” and Obama’s military analogy to horses and bayonets. Meme – “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture” – was coined in 1976 by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and ranked No. 10.

“With Facebook, Twitter and other social media, online response to news events has become simultaneous commentary – and parody,” Sokolowski said in the press release. “The word meme now sometimes serves as the noun form of the adjective viral.”

Liberals' post-election analysis often included the No. 9 word, schadenfreude – a German word meaning “enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.”

Rounding out the list: No. 2 touché – “used to acknowledge a hit in fencing or the success or appropriateness of an argument, an accusation, or a witty point” – and No. 6 professionalism – “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.”


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