December 17, 2011

WOTY: Merriam-Webster

As always, Merriam-Webster uses the label "word of the year" for the word that was looked up most often on its online dictionary site. This year, the word in question was "pragmatic." Unexpected, no? It doesn't seem to be related to any specific event in politics or culture that would prompt people to look it up, nor is it particularly difficult to spell.

 In any case, "pragmatic" wasn't a choice or "pick" made by M-W (as claimed, for example, by the Huffington Post), it was simply the word that had the most look-ups. A pragmatic approach, indeed, but not one that tells us a lot about dominant topics and themes in 2011.

Users can now provide feedback on why they looked up a particular word and in the case of "pragmatic," it seems that some users wanted to verify that the word has positive connotations. (The word is of Greek origin, related to the Greek word for "deed".)

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