Merriam-Webster has revealed the words people looked up the most in the dictionary throughout 2022. Here, we go through the top 23 words.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary revealed the most popular words people searched for online in 2022. Many go hand in hand with major events, so it’s interesting to see what the public wanted to learn more about.
Here, we go through the list of the words people looked up the most in 2022.
What Is the Reason Behind Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year?
Online dictionaries pay attention to their users’ activities, but Merriam-Webster takes things further by creating annual lists of its most popular search terms.
It does a year-on-year comparison and explains when and why each given year’s spikes in lookups occurred, showcasing what people were curious about the most and what affected them.
The Word of the Year analysis for 2022 reveals a clear interest in matters of psychology, politics, culture, human rights, virology, AI, and vocabulary.
The Top Words People Searched for in 2022
Here are the terms and definitions listed in Merriam-Webster’s report. Just like NFT being the word of the year in 2021, each of the following has something important to signify, from fun trends to psychosocial concepts.
- Gaslighting: the act of misleading someone for your benefit, usually involving psychological manipulation.
- Oligarch: a ruling member of a government with a small group controlling the many, but also a rich individual from Russia or another former Soviet Union country with global wealth and governmental connections.
- Sanction: a formal decree or coercive measure for enforcing societal standards, sometimes used by several countries in unison to subdue another nation violating international law.
- Armageddon: a huge conflict or, in more biblical terms, a final battle between good and evil.
- Conscript: to compel people into military or another service—these last four words relate to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
- Omicron: the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet and a variant of COVID-19.
- Endemic: when a disease exists in a specific area.
- Codify: the act of making a law—lookups for this and the next three words soared after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
- Abortion: the termination of a pregnancy.
- Take for granted: to assume something without question or fail to appreciate it properly.
- Mercurial: someone who’s charismatic and clever but roguish or prone to quick changes in mood.
- LGBTQIA: acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.
- Sentient: being conscious of or responsive to your senses—the online searches were largely due to questions like whether Google’s LaMDA really is a sentient AI.
- Loamy: something containing loam, a mixture of moist clay—this and the next popular lookup was thanks to five-letter-word puzzle games like Quordle.
- Voilà: an interjection to draw attention to something.
- Raid: a surprise attack or operation, sometimes by law officers.
- Redact: to put something in writing or edit a document for publication or to hide text.
- Trove: a collection of valuables.
- Banana republic: a small, usually tropical, country run despotically—people searched its meaning along with the three terms above after the FBI searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
- Queen Consort: the wife of a reigning king.
- Pomp and circumstance: very formal ceremonies or activities.
- Monarch: the constitutional ruler of a kingdom or empire.
- Jubilee: a special anniversary, commonly used in the UK to celebrate a monarch’s reign. Queen Elizabeth II’s death prompted the last word searches on this list.
Expand Your Vocabulary With Important New Words
The search trends of online dictionaries can be enlightening, especially when you can connect them to real-life events. They’re also indicative of the year’s top search trends, though not a direct report. Learning about these words enriches both your mind and language.
So, keep discovering words to add to your vocabulary. You can find inspiration everywhere now—books, websites, apps, social media, and other people.