For When Idioms Make You Feel Like An Idiot

Online Dictionary Shares Most Looked Up Idioms Internationally & Top New Word Requests

OAKLAND, Calif., October 18, 2017 – The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence where the chickens come home to roost, catch my drift? If not, you’re in luck – Dictionary.com, the leading online and mobile English-language resource, today released data on the most searched idioms across the globe to determine which phrases leave people perplexed. Additionally, the company shared a list of the most searched for words that are not currently in the dictionary, giving a glimpse into some of the biggest trends of the last year.

“John Steinbeck may be one of the great American authors, but Americans don’t always understand the meaning behind one of his popular titles,” said Dictionary.com lexicographer, Jane Solomon. “’The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ is the most searched idiom globally, but U.S. searchers are looking it up over 70 percent more than their international counterparts, possibly because this book is so often assigned in American schools. After mice and men comes heartbreak – ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ is searched 46 percent more internationally than in the U.S., but is still the second highest searched idiom overall.”

We Won’t Beat Around the Bush. Dictionary.com’s Top 10 Most Searched Idioms Are:

  1. The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry
    • 70% more lookups in the U.S. than internationally
  2. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
    • 46% more lookups internationally than in the U.S.
  3. Can’t see the forest for the trees
    • 53% more lookups in the U.S. than internationally
  4. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
    • 74% more lookups in the U.S. than internationally
  5. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence
    • 54% more international lookups than U.S.
  6. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
    • 5% more lookups in the U.S. than internationally
  7. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander
    • 8% more lookups in the U.S. than internationally
  8. You’ve made your bed, now lie in it
    • 16% more lookups in the U.S. than internationally
  9. Albatross around one’s neck
    • 28% more lookups in the U.S. than internationally
  10. Get someone’s goat
    • 4% more lookups in the U.S. than internationally

“We’ve all been part of a conversation, email, or text message at one point or another where someone uses an idiom or phrase that makes us go, ‘huh?’ – and that’s precisely the reason we wanted to dig in to see which of those our U.S. and international users were searching most frequently,” said Liz McMillan, CEO of Dictionary.com. “Our users turn to us for all of their language needs, whether it’s searching for correct spelling or getting more insight into an unfamiliar phrase.”

Say What?

More interesting data emerges when looking at idioms beyond the top ten list:

  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do
    • International Dictionary.com users search this 77% more than U.S. users
  • Like shooting fish in a barrel
    • S. users search this 24% more than international users
  • Once in a blue moon
    • International users search this 129% more than U.S. users

Tracking Trending Terminology

“In addition to keeping track of interesting idioms, we frequently analyze data on words that people are searching that don’t have a current entry on Dictionary.com. We’ve found that many of these terms originate or are popularized by current events and pop culture,” continued Solomon. “This current list of most searched for new words highlights trends we’ve seen in politics, music, and more.”

  1. Antifa: A shortened version of anti-facist that has risen in popularity in the last year.
  2. Covfefe: Spurred by President Trump’s tweet, users rushed to Dictionary.com to see if this mysterious combination of letters has a meaning.
  3. Cuck: This word has been used in political arguments and is a shortened version of cuckold; typically meant as an insult to emasculate others.
  4. Despacito: The name of Luis Fonsi and Justin Bieber’s hit song, the Spanish word translates as slowly.
  5. Fidget spinner: These toys rose to fame in 2017, becoming so popular that schools had to ban students from using them in class.
  6. Hygge: This word of Danish origin is hard to capture perfectly in English, but has nonetheless been used by consumer and brand alike to convey a feeling of coziness.
  7. Smize: Supermodel Tyra Banks is to thank for this word, which means to smile with one’s eyes.
  8. Turnt: A playful misspelling of “turned;” usually shows one’s excitement for a party or event.
  9. Vax: Short for vaccination.
  10. Welp: The verbal equivalent of a shrug; an ambivalent or exasperated expression.

About Dictionary.com
Dictionary.com, an IAC (NASDAQ: IAC) company, is the world’s leading, definitive online and mobile resource dedicated to helping people master the art of language. We provide tens of millions of global monthly users with reliable access to millions of definitions, synonyms, audio pronunciations, example sentences, translations and spelling help through our services at Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com. Our leading mobile applications for reference and education have been downloaded more than 100 million times.

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