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Merriam-Webster’s Most Looked-Up Words for 2012

Election-year interest brought 'socialism' and 'capitalism' to the top


Politics played a big role this year in sending folks to the dictionary. In this election year, Merriam-Webster has revealed that the most looked-up words for 2012 were “socialism” and “capitalism,” reports USA Today. Those two words, which both more than doubled this year against their 2011 ranking, were a part of the debate surrounding the hotly contested presidential election.

More politically charged words made the top 10. “Democracy,” “marriage,” “bigot” and “globalization” all finished high in the rankings after being prominently mentioned by the candidates and the media.

“Malarkey” — famously used by Vice President Joe Biden in his debate — saw a spike of 3,000% in the day after he used it to describe one of Republican VP hopeful Paul Ryan’s statements. The word is believed to be of Irish-American origin, but no actual history is known. It’s first known use is in newspapers in 1929.

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