Excelsior, Stay In Your Lane, And Other Trending Words On Dictionary.com

From the loss of one of the world’s superheroes to the happenings on the world stage, take a look at the news stories that made people scurry to Dictionary.com November 9–16, 2018 to find meaning.


Marvel fans mourned the loss of one of the comic book industries superheroes November 12. Stan Lee died at age 95, leaving behind the legendary characters he created or co-created, including Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, and Ant-Man. His legacy will live on, including his favored catchphrase: Excelsior. The word trended both on Twitter and Dictionary.com shortly after Lee’s death was announced. Borrowed from Latin, excelsior means “ever upward.” It’s also the motto of the State of New York, where Lee was born.

Find out other Latin phrases you’ve probably heard while streaming (or reading)


How necessary was Antibiotic Awareness Week? Let’s just say this week’s celebration coincided with a 49% surge in searches for the meaning of antibiotic, plus the rather alarming news from the World Health Organization that there’s a global antibiotic usage gap. We’ll let the WHO explain that one, but first, a reminder that antibiotic means “any of a large group of chemical substances, as penicillin or streptomycin, produced by various microorganisms and fungi, having the capacity in dilute solutions to inhibit the growth of or to destroy bacteria and other microorganisms, used chiefly in the treatment of infectious diseases.” P.S., They don’t kill viruses. (Your doctor asked us to add that.)

Stay in your lane

The National Rifle Association warned “anti-gun doctors” to stay in your lane last week after a deadly shooting at a California bar prompted many in the medical field to speak their minds about gun control. The phrase was quickly adapted by the doctors in their responses to the NRA, as they used hashtags such as “#ThisIsMyLane” and “#ItIsOurLane” to bring notice to their cause, gaining viral attention over the weekend.

Meanwhile, searches for the meaning of stay in your lane climbed 450%. The phrase means “to mind your own business.”


Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, hit shelves this week, and along with it came a flurry of press appearances. While many headlines focused on her revelation that daughters Sasha and Malia were both conceived with the help of IVF, it was her use of the word misogynist this week that sent searchers to Dictionary.com for meaning. The word climbed 280% just a week after misogynistic appeared on our trending list. Both forms of the word describe “reflecting or exhibiting hatred, dislike, mistrust, or mistreatment of women.”

WATCH: Unteaching "Boys Will Be Boys" And "Boys Don't Cry"


John Harbaugh laid out his plans for the future of the Baltimore Ravens’ season this week, and he made it clear he doesn’t brook any nonsense. Harbaugh, who has been coaching the Ravens for a full decade helped make searches for banter climb by 122% with his call for all the attention currently focused on the team to take a seat.

“All the other stuff is just fluff; it’s just noise; it’s just banter,” Harbaugh said. “It’s barroom talk. Turn on the TV, it’s two guys talking in the bar, supposedly–except it’s all choreographed, you know? ‘You take this side, I’ll take that side.’ It’s all B.S. We don’t care! We have to go play.” So, what did he mean by banter? The noun means “an exchange of light, playful, teasing remarks; good-natured raillery.”

Nationalism and patriotism

French President Emmanuel Macron made searches for two words jump during a speech November 11 in Paris, when he called patriotism the “exact opposite” of nationalism. Was he right?

Well, that depends on which definition of nationalism you go by. Like many words on Dictionary.com, nationalism has a number of definitions, depending on the context in which it’s used. Some people use nationalism to mean “devotion and loyalty to one’s own country,” (which looks pretty similar to the definition of patriotism), while others use the term in the sense of our third definition: “excessive patriotism; chauvinism.”

Drain the swamp

HBO host John Oliver helped boost searches for the phrase drain the swamp by 500% this week with the main segment of his weekly talk show Last Week Tonight. Focused on President Donald Trump, the segment made mention of Trump’s frequent usage of the metaphor during his rallies.

In case you missed the show, or wanted to dive a little deeper, here’s the story behind drain the swamp. A metaphor that means “to root out corruption,” surprise, it was not coined by the current president.


Fans of the British monarchy saw Prince Charles celebrate his 70th birthday November 14 with wife Camilla at his side. The festive event renewed interest in Camilla’s proper title should Charles ascend the throne. The likely name would be queen consort, so it’s no surprise that searches for consort climbed 209% this week. A consort is defined as “a spouse, especially of a reigning monarch.”

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