These are dark days, indeed. Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, noted that “austerity” was searched more than 250,000 times on its website, thereby earning the 14th-century noun Word of the Year honors, however dubious they might be.
The other most popular words of 2010 included “pragmatic,” “moratorium,” “socialism” and “bigot” — M-W cited the last word as a result of its public use by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former CNN host Rick Sanchez and former NPR senior analyst Juan Williams.
Other top-10 words included “doppelganger,” “shellacking,” “ebullient,” “dissident” and “furtive.”
Aside from “ebullient,” these are a pretty negative pack of words, which probably collectively sum up this past year accurately. Let’s hope for some more positive bon mots next year.