From NASCAR tracks to Washington, D.C., here are the words that were blowing up the Dictionary.com trending charts this week.
Semi-retired NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. dropped the word funner on Twitter last weekend, drawing out the language snobs to correct him on his usage. There’s just one problem: Funner is, in fact, a word! Informal though it may be, the word that spiked 2,144% in searches over the weekend happens to mean “more fun.”
Currently 📈 on https://t.co/OeJELgy3YL: Funner.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) October 21, 2018
A New York Times article that reached viral status over the weekend under the headline “‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration” unsurprisingly had many Americans wondering just what the definition of gender is in the first place. Already a popular word on Dictionary.com, searches for gender were up 481%. So, what does it mean?
Dictionary.com lexicographers note that gender can be used when differentiating male creatures from female ones biologically; however the concept of gender, a word primarily applied to human beings, has additional connotations—more rich and more amorphous—having to do with general behavior, social interactions, and most importantly, one’s fundamental sense of self.
Australia’s Invictus Games were the focus of world-wide attention this week. Created by Prince Harry, who traveled halfway around the world with wife Meghan Markle to kick them off, the international games feature wounded, injured, or sick armed services personnel competing in a variety of sports, from wheelchair basketball to sitting volleyball. They’re named for a Latin adjective that means “unconquered, unsubdued, invincible.” Perhaps proving Latin isn’t dead, searches for invictus climbed 407%.
Nationalist and nationalism
President Donald Trump called himself a nationalist during a rally in Houston this week and called on other Americans to “use that word.”
Is it any surprise people wanted to look the word up before they used it? Searches for nationalist were up a whopping 27,513%, while searches for nationalism (“the practice which nationalists ascribe to”) rose a more modest 2,226%. The words have a number of definitions, so dive in and see which one you think fits.
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News from the Secret Service that bombs headed for former President Barack and Michelle Obama, former President Bill and Hillary Clinton, former Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and former Attorney General Eric Holder had been intercepted on the same day that the home of CNN’s New York offices were evacuated under a bomb threat had many Americans searching for meaning.
One of the terms in mind? Stochastic terrorism, which trended as the news was unfolding. Defined as “the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted,” the word rocketed 9,826% onto the trending list.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) October 24, 2018
The heartbreaking news that seven children died at a New Jersey health facility after being infected with adenovirus had plenty of folks on edge this week. Understandably, they wanted to know just what the adenovirus was, sending adenovirus searches up 1,490%. The medical term covers “any of a group of DNA viruses that cause eye and respiratory diseases.”
The Saudi Arabian government once again changed its story on how journalist Jamal Khashoggi died. Thursday’s announcement that the Washington Post writer was murdered and that the death was premeditated sent searches surging for premeditated. The term means “planned in advance.”
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) October 25, 2018
Need another reason to love Tom Hanks? The star of everything from Big to Toy Story earned a spot on our trending words list with a 628% spike in searches for sibilance this week (say that three times fast).
According to a piece in Rolling Stone about Gavin Edwards’ new book about the actor, the 9-time Saturday Night Live host would get laughs at 30 Rock simply for his pronunciation of sibilance. Is there anything this guy can’t do to make us smile? Sibilance means “hissing,” you know … something Tom Hanks rarely hears. (We hope).
After opening up to the world about a miscarriage, Teen Mom OG stars Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra have been celebrating the news that they’re expecting a rainbow baby, drawing interest to the term. Searches for rainbow baby climbed 371% this week after Catelynn shared an Instagram image of daughter Nova reminding the world that she’s expecting a new little sibling. A rainbow baby is “a baby that is born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss of an infant.”