Prognosticator, Herpetologist, And Other Trending Words On

Do you have your eyes on the news? Here are the words that made headlines and drove searches December 14–21, 2018 on!


The word prognosticator tends to get its biggest use in February, when a groundhog is hauled out to forecast the arrival of spring. But the noun, which means “one who forecasts or predicts (something future) from present indications or signs,” jumped onto our trending words list this week with a 496% climb.

The reason? President Donald Trump used it on Twitter, calling journalist Bill Kristol a “failed prognosticator.”

Twentieth Amendment

There’s a lot of talk about Congress’ lame ducks—a name for politicians who have lost re-election bids but whose terms have not yet expired. Dozens of so-called lame ducks have been AWOL from Congressional proceedings, boosting searches for the meaning of the Twentieth Amendment.

What’s the connection? Ratified in 1933, the Twentieth Amendment reduced a lame duck’s tenure from the original November to March to today’s practice of swearing in new politicians in January.


Herpetologist, a word for “someone who studies reptiles and amphibians,” climbed as news hit that a proposed name for a new amphibian had been announced. The name dermophis donaldtrumpi was suggested thanks to the winning entry in a contest to bless a newly found 4-inch-long, worm-like amphibian from Panama its own moniker.


Chinese President Xi Jingping earned a place on our trending word list with a speech regarding reforms in the country. China, he said, will “never seek hegemony,” sending curious folks searching for the meaning of hegemony.

Here it is: “aggression or expansionism by large nations in an effort to achieve world domination.”


If you were reading Richard Cohen’s opinion column in the Washington Post and scratching your head over the meaning of meretricious, you weren’t alone! Cohen’s mention of “meretricious lawyers” made for a 299% leap in searches.

The adjective means “alluring by a show of flashy or vulgar attractions; tawdry.”

Want to know another word that’s flashy and gaudy?

WATCH: Bedizen: Visual Word of the Day

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