The Definitions That People Didn’t Know in 2009

    December 1, 2009
    Chris Crum

It’s that time of year when all of the search engines are releasing their lists of top searches. may not get the traffic of a Google, or even an Ask, which is owned by the same company, but its list provides a different perspective to the picture of what people are searching for.’s purpose is to provide users with definitions (as well as spelling and context). So a look at the top searches there reflect less what people are interested in learning more information about, and more what they are trying to understand the meaning of on a word-by-word basis.

The top words searched for on in 2009 have been:

1. Affect
2. Ubiquitous
3. Irony
4. Socialism
5. Effect
6. Melancholy
7. Love
8. Integrity
9. Nostalgic
10. Pedantic

Affect and effect are obviously searched for more because they are commonly misspelled in place of one another. Socialism’s position is likely a product of much political dialogue over the past year in this country. "Ubiquitous" is a word that has seemingly become kind of trendy to say. I have heard it used much more this year than any other year I can remember. Perhaps the most interesting entry is "love." That, I don’t have an explanation for.

The top gainers of 2009 on were:

1. Esurient
2. Impeded
3. Shuddering
4. Fugacious
5. Suffering
6. Negative
7. Namaste
8. Adjuvant
9. Callipygian
10. Twitter

The top decliners were:

1. Bush
2.  Maverick
3.  Solace
4.  Liberal
5.  Obsequious
6.  Rhetoric
7.  Superfluous
8. Condescending
9.  Cynical
10. Ostentatious

Finally, the most commonly misspelled words in queries were:

1. Perseverance
2. Convenient
3. Embarrassed
4. Prerogative
5. Pretentious
6. Appalled
7. Genius
8. Definitely
9. Inadvertently
10. Separate

"’s top searched words of the year clearly illustrate the everyday value of our service in helping people communicate smarter and more effectively," said David Wygant, Senior Director of Products and Programming. "With more than 43 million users relying on per month, our end-of-year lists serve as a barometer of the prevailing attitudes and sentiments of people throughout 2009."

I think it would be interesting to see a list from Google on the use of it’s "define:" feature, which is a search operator that retrieves word definitions. I wonder if there would be many parallels. 

Related Articles:

Google Year-End Zeitgeist Published

Yahoo Releases Top Searches Of 2009

Top Trending Topics on Bing