Soaring Searches: January’s Trending Lookups

Dictionary lookups often reflect the themes, topics and trends that are dominating the news headlines at any given time. In January 2014, lookups for obscure foods, popular films and tricky government terms ballooned. Here are a few of the most interesting searches that spiked.

Political Jargon
Elastic clause
Searches for this phrase grew by more than 5000 percent from January 2013 to January 2014. More technically known as the necessary and proper clause, the elastic clause is a very basic tenet of the United States Constitution that says, simply, Congress has the power to make laws that are “necessary and proper” for carrying out the powers enumerated by the Constitution. Like many parts of the Constitution, this vague statement has been interpreted by the Supreme Court over the past centuries. This clause was invoked in the great debate of 2012 about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, but apparently it has stayed in the spotlight, at least for some searchers.

Also in politics: compared to January of last year, when President Obama was sworn in for another four years in the Oval Office, the search volume for the word inauguration fell by almost half.

This word spiked in volume by over 1000 percent from last year. In the past couple of years this formerly ignored grain has gained immense popularity as a healthier alternative to the carbohydrate-dense rice and wheat. In 2012, Peru’s Minister οf Agriculture announced that global quinoa exports had grown to over $25 million in 2011. Have you tried this ancient grain?

Inclement Weather Woes
This term surged more than 1500 percent as temperatures dropped and schools closed in the aptly titled Polar Vortex which started around January 2.

Of Pop Cultural Interest
This word increased by more than 1000 percent, as millions of people went to see David O. Russell’s latest film American Hustle. To Scorsese’s chagrin, there was not a comparative increase for the word wolf.

Did you look up any of the above terms in January? What words were you curious about last month? Are there trending terms that you’re surprised didn’t surface in our data?