What do those five words have in common?
Michael Quinion, World Wide Words Newsletter 862, 12/14/2013:
Words of the year The track record for words of the year has not always been impressive (does anybody still speak of information superhighway or Bushlips?). This may be why Merriam-Webster took the editorial eye out of the equation and resorted to statistics in choosing its word for 2013. Its online dictionary gets about 100 million accesses every month, so there’s no shortage of data. It checked the words that have been looked up most often and selected those that show the greatest increase this year compared with last. This led to a disappointingly mundane result: the word that came out on top with an increase of 176% and so became word of the year is science. Peter Sokolowski, Editor-at-Large at Merriam-Webster, noted, “A wide variety of discussions centered on science this year, from climate change to educational policy. We saw heated debates about ‘phony’ science, or whether science held all the answers.” The rest of the top five are equally unexciting: cognitive, rapport, communication and niche.
"Unexciting"? As the former director of Penn's Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, I'm stoked.
More on this from Kaly Steinmetz, "And Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year Is…", Time 12/3/2013, including a longer list of 10 words whose frequency-of-being-looked-up increased by the larger percentages: