Written by Tammy Walro
Friday, 12 December 2008 14:52
With the economy and politics foremost on the minds of many Americans, it is no wonder that “bailout” took honors as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2008.
Bailout, defined in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition as “a rescue from financial distress,” received the highest intensity of lookups on Merriam-Webster Online over the shortest period of time, editors said.
As is evident from the 2008 Word of the Year contenders list below, the presidential campaign and financial issues factored heavily in the concerns Merriam-Webster’s online visitors throughout the year.
The contenders also included:
Not sure what they mean? Click onto http://www.merriam-webster.com to see the definitions. Hint: you can also listen to the pronunciation by clicking on the speaker icon next to the word.
How does a word get into a Merriam-Webster dictionary? The answer is simple: usage. To decide which words to include in the dictionary and to determine what they mean, Merriam-Webster editors study the language as it’s used. They carefully monitor which words people use most often and how they use them.
Each day most Merriam-Webster editors devote an hour or two to reading a cross section of published material, including books, newspapers, magazines and electronic publications. The editors scour the texts in search of new words, new usages of existing words, variant spellings and inflected forms—in short, anything that might help in deciding if a word belongs in the dictionary, understanding what it means and determining typical usage. Any word of interest is marked, along with surrounding context that offers insight into its form and use.