May 18, 2007

language in the news

Merriam-Webster reports in its most recent newsletter that there were "some shake-ups in the list of the most frequently looked-up words at the Merriam-Webster Online Web site in April, as news events and controversies brought some new words to the list.

The two top words, debauchery and nappy, are new to the top ten list. The growing popularity of the former can clearly be traced back to the shootings at Virginia Tech. Merriam-Webster state that reports about the note left by the gunman referred to this word frequently.

#2 on the list, nappy, also owes its popularity to recent news-making events. Merriam-Webster's lexicographers are convinced that "Don Imus' comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team took the word nappy to the No. 2 spot". However, readers that were hoping to look up the word in Merriam-Webster's free online dictionary were in for a disappointment, since the dictionary doesn't list the relevant meaning. You would have to go to for that.

The list continues with old acquaintances, such as effect, affect, integrity, awkward, metaphor, yes, and love.

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