December 12, 2005

integrity?

each year, merriam-webster puts together a list of the "words of the year". these are the words that are looked up most often in their free online dictionary. among the top ten in 2005, not surprisingly, are tsunami, filibuster, and conclave. the indian ocean tsunami in december 2004 killed hundreds of thousands of people - and within days the word tsunami became part of everybody's vocabulary. william safire wrote in his column "on language" on jan. 16, 2005:
Toward the end of 2004, many lexicographers agreed that the word of the year was blog, from ''Web log,'' with its extension of bloggers, commentators with Internet addresses who had joined the panjandrums of political media.

Then disaster struck. The word to describe the event that will fix the year in the history of geologic catastrophe and the resulting human tragedy is tsunami, from the Japanese tsu, ''harbor,'' and nami, ''waves.''

a real surprise, though, is the word that made it to the top of the list: the most looked-up word, if that's a word, in 2005 so far has been integrity.

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