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A History: Dictionarycom’s Word of the Year

Word of the Year

Our Word of the Year choice serves as a symbol of each year’s most meaningful events and lookup trends It is an opportunity for us to reflect on the language and ideas that represented each year So, take a stroll down memory lane to remember all of our past Word of the Year selections

It wasn't trendy, funny, nor was it coined on Twitter, but we thought change told a real story about how our users defined 2010 Unlike in 2008, change was no longer a campaign slogan But, the term still held a lot of weight Here's an excerpt from our Word of the Year announcement in 2010:

The national debate can arguably be summarized by the question: In the past two years, has there been enough change? Has there been too much? Meanwhile, many Americans continue to face change in their homes, bank accounts and jobs Only time will tell if the latest wave of change Americans voted for in the midterm elections will result in a negative or positive outcome


This rare word was chosen to represent 2011 because it described so much of the world around us Tergiversate means "to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc" Editors at Dictionarycom saw the stock market, political groups, and public opinion go through a roller coaster of change throughout 2011 And so, we named tergiversate the 2011 Word of the Year

In a year known for the Occupy movement and what became known as the Arab Spring, our lexicographers chose bluster as their Word of the Year for 2012 Here's an excerpt from our release that year that gives a pretty good explanation for our choice:

2012 saw the most expensive political campaigns and some of the most extreme weather events in human history, from floods in Australia to cyclones in China to Hurricane Sandy and many others

We got serious in 2013 Privacy was on everyone's mind that year, from Edward Snowden's reveal of Project PRISM to the arrival of Google Glass Here's an excerpt from our announcement in 2013:


Spoiler alert: Things don't get less serious in 2014 Our Word of the Year was exposure, which highlighted the year's Ebola virus outbreak, shocking acts of violence both abroad and in the US, and widespread theft of personal information Here's what we had to say about exposure in 2014:

From the pervading sense of vulnerability surrounding Ebola to the visibility into acts of crime or misconduct that ignited critical conversations about race, gender, and violence, various senses of exposure were out in the open this year

Fluidity of identity was a huge theme in 2015 Language around gender and sexual identity broadened, becoming more inclusive with additions to the dictionary like gender-fluid as well as the gender-neutral prefix Mx Racial identity also held a lot of debate in 2015, after Rachel Dolezal, a white woman presenting herself as a black woman, said she identified as biracial or transracial Our Word of the Year in 2015 reflected the many facets of identity that surfaced that year


In 2016, we selected xenophobia as our Word of the Year Fear of the "other" was a huge theme in 2016, from Brexit to President Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric In our announcement, we urged our readers to reflect on this term rather than celebrate it:

Despite being chosen as the 2016 Word of the Year, xenophobia is not to be celebrated Rather it’s a word to reflect upon deeply in light of the events of the recent pastWalden farms salad dressing where to buy in canadaThe Fastest Way to Land Your Dream Job Youll never get a Job if you dont have a Good Answer to this frequently asked job interview question Select the right answer to determine if you are prepared for a successful job interview.

The word complicit sprung up in conversations in 2017 about those who spoke out against powerful figures and institutions and about those who stayed silent It was a year of real awakening to complicity in various sectors of society, from politics to pop culture From our 2017 Word of the Year announcement:

Our choice for Word of the Year is as much about what is visible as it is about what is not It’s a word that reminds us that even inaction is a type of action The silent acceptance of wrongdoing is how we’ve gotten to this point We must not let this continue to be the norm If we do, then we are all complicit