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Merriam-Webster’s Word Of The Year Is An Unlikely But Fitting Choice

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After much discussion over whether “wtf” counts as a word, Merriam-Webster has decided it’s not and instead named “surreal” the prestigious Word of the Year. It joins such previous winners as “democracy” (we were so innocent in 2003), “blog” (lol), and, after Merriam-Webster took it easy in 2007, “w00t.” “Surreal” is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year because it was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than it was in previous years,” the reference company wrote, “and because there were multiple occasions on which this word was the one clearly driving people to their dictionary.”

“Surreal” had three major spikes in traffic in 2016: in March, after the Brussels terror attacks; in July, after the coup attempt in Turkey and another terrorist attack in Nice; and in November, following the U.S. election. “Fascism” was the front-runner for the Word of the Year — so much so that Merriam-Webster begged people to look up anything else — but “surreal,” defined as “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream,” came out on top.

Surreal is often looked up spontaneously in moments of both tragedy and surprise, whether or not it is used in speech or writing. This is not surprising: we often search for just the right word to help us bring order to abstract thoughts, emotions, or reactions.

Surreal seems to be, for 2016, such a word. (Via)

It’s certainly been a tragically surprising (surprisingly tragic?) year. Other popular words in 2016 include “feckless,” “deplorable,” “bigly,” and “revenant.” Now that Leo has his Oscar, he knows what he wants to win next.

(Via Merriam-Webster)

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