10 most-looked-up words of 2012, according to Merriam Webster

Here are the 10 words that most often sent Americans to the dictionary in 2012.

10. Meme

Matt Sayles/AP

Defined as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture,” meme lookups skyrocketed after presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought up Big Bird and “whole binders full of women” in debate performances, inspiring a range of online parodies that installed “binders” as the Internet meme of the moment. “With Facebook, Twitter and other social media, online response to news events has become simultaneous commentary – and parody,” said Sokolowski. “The word meme now sometimes serves as the noun form of the adjective viral.”

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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