3 Trending Words from the Week’s News

This week’s trending words touch on the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana, the earthquake in Nepal, and the latest economic report.

smugness: contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority, or correctness.

The story of Shona Banda, a 37-year-old woman in Kansas who has lost custody of her 11-year-old son after he allegedly told school officials that there was drug use at his home, provoked comment from television and radio personality Glenn Beck on Thursday, April 23. Banda, who has publicly discussed her use of cannabis oil to manage Crohn’s Disease, recorded a video of police officers at her house. Outraged by the recorded interaction, Beck said on his talk show, “As a fellow citizen, I would first say, ‘Excuse me, could I have an ounce of respect and not smugness from you? I’m a fellow citizen. You come here and want to search my house. No. I know my rights. Second of all, I’m innocent until proven guilty. Can you turn down your smugness just a tad for me?’” The day of this broadcast, the word smugness spiked in our lookups.

inexorably: in an unyielding or unalterable manner.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake near Kathmandu over the weekend had journalists struggling to convey the chaos and destruction in Nepal’s capital. One adverb that spiked in our lookups on Monday, April 27, was inexorably–a term that also popped up in numerous descriptions of the quake’s aftermath and the geological conditions that caused it.

“The death toll has skipped past 3,000 and climbs, inexorably.” —CNN

“As rescuers pulled victims from the rubble with their bare hands, including from collapsed historic buildings in Kathmandu, the death toll rose inexorably to more than 1,300, amid fears that it could climb higher still.” –News portal of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

“The India plate is inexorably sliding, in a halting, ground-shaking fashion, northward, beneath the much larger Eurasia plate.” —Portland Press Herald

anemic: lacking power, vigor, or vitality.

The US Department of Commerce released an economic report for the first quarter of the year on Wednesday, April 29, generating a flurry of articles in which the word anemic was used to describe the state of the US economy.

“U.S. economy grew at anemic 0.2% pace in Q1” —USA Today

“The anemic showing was led by two areas that were especially weak: net exports and business investment.” —New York Times

“But spending on goods was anemic, and folks spent less on cars and clothing—all consistent with people avoiding the arctic freeze that slammed the Northeast.” —MarketMinder

As a result of such coverage, people took to Dictionary.com to better understand the term, generating a spike in lookups the day the report was released. The word anemic is an adjectival form of anemia, a medical condition affecting the production of red blood cells that can cause pallor, weakness, and breathlessness.