Merriam-Webster, a US-based company out of Springfield, Massachusetts, has developed a tradition. Each year, the company chooses its “word of the year” and its approach is different compared to other dictionaries. While companies try to find a word that sums up the events of the past 12 months, Merriam-Webster tries to look out for the word that people were actually looking forward to that year. There were so many words that got a number of hits based on the trends, especially in politics.
For instance, lodestar was one of the most searched words. A lot of people appeared to believe that the meaning of the word would probably lead to the identity of a notorious anonymous writer who did a controversial op-ed on the ins and outs of the White House. There were also people searching for the word maverick. The word was used to eulogize the late Senator John McCain after he passed away due to brain cancer. Despite this, there was still one word that saw more hits than any other. Merriam-Webster says that “justice” appeared to be the word in the minds of many Americans.
Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, told TIME magazine that the word was in the minds of many people in a very particular way. Justice is a word that has two meanings. It can be interpreted to mean conformity to the truth, facts or reason. The word might also be seen as the maintenance or the administration of what is just.
The number of people who looked up the word actually spiked during a number of occasions. For instance, when Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court by president Trump, there was a spike in searches. During his controversial and often heated confirmation, there was also another spike. In addition to this, Kim Kardashian’s visit to the White House also led to a spike in searches. Kim Kardashian was at the White House to discuss prison reforms and it’s possible that people searching for the word had the idea of criminal justice in their minds.
The year was also rife with social protests from all corners. We saw the case of Colin Kaepernick who inspired other NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Other protests too on the same lines were reported this year and they all led to a spike in the number of times the word “justice” was searched.
The Justice Department too has been making headlines in 2018. The high profile investigation by Robert Mueller was one of the major drivers of searches. The department was also engulfed in the zero-tolerance immigration policy that saw the separation of children from their parents at the border. This was one of the major news headlines this year and Merriam-Webster felt that it may have helped spike searches for the word “Justice.” Overall, this word has been searched in the context of people crying for it. Americans want justice.