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

Political debates and this year’s election drove Americans to the dictionary – or the web – this year, making eight of this year’s ten most looked up words politically-inspired, according to Merriam Webster. Among this year’s picks are such politically-motivated words as socialism, democracy, capitalism, and malarkey, courtesy of Vice President Joe Biden. “They’re words that sort of encapsulate the zeitgeist,” said Merriam Webster editor at large, Peter Sokolowski. “They’re words that are in the national conversation. The thing about an election year is that it generates a huge amount of very specific interest.” Here now, are the top ten words that Americans looked up in 2012.

1. 'Socialism' and 'capitalism'

David Goldman/AP

For the first time since it began compiling most popular word searches in 2003, Merriam Webster chose two “words of the year,” socialism and capitalism. Lookups spiked during coverage of the healthcare debate, as well as both political conventions and each of the presidential debates. “It’s fascinating to see which language from a campaign or debate speech resonates with our users,” said John Morse, President and Publisher at Merriam-Webster. “With socialism and capitalism, it’s clear that many people turned to the dictionary to help make sense of the commentary that often surrounds these words.”

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