A History Dictionarycoms Word of the Year

It wasnttrendy, funny, nor was it coined onTwitter, but we thoughtchangetold a real story about how our users defined 2010. Unlike in 2008,changewas no longer a campaign slogan. But, the term still held a lot of weight. Heres an excerpt from ourWord of the Year announcement in 2010:

In 2016, we selectedxenophobiaas our Word of the Year. Fear of the other was a huge theme in 2016, from Brexit to President Donald Trumps campaign rhetoric. Inour announcement, we urged our readers to reflect on this term rather than celebrate it:

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

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Our Word of the Year choice serves as a symbol of each years 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.

The wordcomplicitsprung 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 our2017 Word of the Year announcement:

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.

We got serious in 2013.Privacywas on everyones mind that year, from Edward Snowdens reveal of Project PRISM to the arrival of Google Glass. Heres an excerpt from ourannouncement in 2013:

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.

In a year known for the Occupy movement and what became known as the Arab Spring, our lexicographers choseblusteras their Word of the Year for 2012. Heres an excerpt fromour release that yearthat gives a pretty good explanation for our choice:

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Many of us have embraced social media, choosing to volunteer intimate particulars and personal photographs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; this robust participation echoes an observation by Mark Zuckerberg in 2010 that the publics comfort level with sharing personal information online is a social norm that has evolved over time. Even so, a recent survey by Harris Poll shows that young people are now monitoring and changing their privacy settings more than ever, a development that USA Today dubbed the Edward Snowden effect.

Spoiler alert: Things dont get less serious in 2014. Our Word of the Year wasexposure,which highlighted the years Ebola virus outbreak, shocking acts of violence both abroad and in the US, and widespread theft of personal information.Heres what we had to say aboutexposurein 2014:

Despite being chosen as the 2016 Word of the Year, xenophobia is not to be celebrated. Rather its a word to reflect upon deeply in light of the events of the recent past.

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.

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Fluidity ofidentitywas a huge theme in 2015. Language around gender and sexual identity broadened, becoming more inclusive with additions to the dictionary likegender-fluidas well as the gender-neutral prefixMx.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 2015reflected the many facets of identity that surfaced that year.

This rare word was chosen to represent 2011 because it described so much of the world around us.Tergiversatemeans to change repeatedly ones attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc. Editors at Dictionary.com saw the stock market, political groups, and public opinion go through a roller coaster of change throughout 2011. And so,we namedtergiversatethe 2011 Word of the Year.

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