Every year, the online dictionary version of Merriam-Webster produces a list of the top-ten most searched for words, and when a word spikes, M-W attempts to find a correlation to word interest. (2004's word, during an election year, was incumbent.)
According to M-W Online, by way of a Yahoo article by way of the AP:
The noun, formally defined as a "firm adherence to a code" and "incorruptibility," has always been a popular one on the Springfield-based company's Web site, said Merriam-Webster president John Morse. But this year, the true meaning of integrity seemed to be of extraordinary concern. About 200,000 people sought its definition online.Hmmm... integrity. Maybe it's what people are looking for these days? Is possible.
Other words that made the top ten list include refugee, contempt, filibuster, insipid, tsunami, pandemic, conclave, levee, and rounding out the list, inept.
While most of the words are apparent as to why Merriam-Webster users looked them up (uproar over Katrina evacuees, the Senate uproar over the filibuster rule, the Asian tsumani, "Oh my God, we're gonna die from bird flu," the election of a new Pope, and exactly what an "embankment for preventing flooding; a continuous dike or ridge (as of earth) for confining the irrigation areas of land to be flooded" is), one might wonder why the words "insipid" and "inept" round out the list. Inept spiked in lookup around the time that President Bush "delivered a live prime time news conference that came to an awkward end when some television networks cut him off to return to their regularly scheduled programs." And insipid? We have to thank Brit native Simon Cowell from an episode of "American Idol" when he introduced new wordsmiths to the word while basically calling an aspiring singer "lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate or challenge: dull, flat," or in other words, insipid.
Now, I find this all very fascinating how the Internet can introduce people to new words and information at their fingertips. Fascinating indeed. However, I'm very surprised that the following word from Merriam-Webster's new Open Dictionary didn't make the 2005 list:
- muff bunnies (noun) : The small gatherings of curly hairs that accumulate in the corners of the bathroom and at the shower drain.
- "Be sure you sweep up all the muff bunnies before company comes."
- Submitted by: Roy Davis from Kentucky Dec. 10, 2005 23:20