There is a tie for Merriam-Webster’s word of the year. Socialism and capitalism are the dictionary’s most looked-up word of 2012.
Though capitalism received slightly less attention than socialism, searches for both words nearly doubled over last year’s look-ups.
Socialism peaked in 2012 during coverage of the healthcare issue, and also spiked around the Democratic and Rebublican conventions and the presidential debates.
Merriam-Webster,’s president and publisher, John M. Morse, says he’s fascinated by the way campaign language resonates with the company’s users. “With socialism and capitalism, it’s clear that many people turned to the dictionary to help make sense of the commentary that often surrounds these words,” says Morse.
For the record, here are Merriam-Webster’s definitions of the top words:
Socialismso�cial�ism noun ?s?-sh?-?li-z?m1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods2a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private propertyCapitalismcap�i�tal�ism noun ?ka-p?-t?-?liz-?m, ?kap-t?-, British also k?-?pi-t?-: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market