Merriam-Webster Names Word Of 2011
Merriam-Webster has picked its top word of 2011, pragmatic.
The word, which means practical and logical, was looked up so often on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary that the publisher says “pragmatic” was the pragmatic choice for its 2011 Word of the Year.
Though it wasn’t traced to a specific news event or quote from a famous person, searches for “pragmatic” jumped in the weeks before Congress voted in August to increase the nation’s debt ceiling, and again as its supercommittee tried to craft deficit-cutting measures this fall.
“Pragmatic” may have sparked dictionary users’ interest both because they’d heard it in conversations, and because it captures the current American mood of encouraging practicality over frivolity, said John Morse, president and publisher of Springfield, Mass.-based Merriam-Webster. ”
‘Pragmatic’ is a word that describes a kind of quality that people value in themselves but also look for in others, and look for in policymakers and the activities of people around them,” Morse said.
A new feature on Merriam-Webster’s site allows users to tell the dictionary publisher why they sought that specific word, and the feedback from those who looked up “pragmatic” was that they wanted to reaffirm that the connotation was positive.
“People have a general sense of what the word meant and in fact had even been using it, but then they had a moment when they thought to themselves, ‘Perhaps I ought to look up that word and make sure it means what I think it means,”‘ Morse said.
Merriam-Webster has been picking its annual top choice since 2003 and below are the list of words from past years:
- 2010: Austerity
- 2009: Admonish
- 2008: Bailout
- 2007: Woot
- 2006: Truthiness
- 2005: Integrity
- 2004: Blog
- 2003: Democracy
What word would you use to describe 2011? Mine would be enlightened 🙂