Humanitarian, Sublimate, And Other Trending Words On

From Glenn Close at the Golden Globes to Cyntoia Brown in Tennessee, here’s who (and what) had folks searching for meaning on the week of January 4–11, 2019.


President Donald Trump made his first-ever address to the nation from the Oval Office this week, so it’s no surprise that folks tuned in to see what he had to say, or that plenty stuck around for the Democrats’ rebuttal during prime-time. But, they weren’t just watching.

Plenty were pulling up to help make sense of what was being said. Among the words to trend during the presentations was humanitarian (up 995%). The word means both “having concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people” and “pertaining to the saving of human lives or to the alleviation of suffering.”


A Rochester, NY meteorologist has apologized for using a racial slur during a recent live broadcast, in which he referred to a park named for civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. as “Martin Luther c–n King Jr. Park.” Station WHEC is sticking by its decision to fire Jeremy Kappell for his offensive language. Debate over the usage prompted a 1,052% spike in searches for the meaning of c–n. Although it can be a shortened term for raccoon, when used in reference to people of color, the term is extremely disparaging and offensive and defined as a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.

Find out other words that are sometimes offensive … depending on the context


Advocates fighting for Tennessee officials to release prisoner Cyntoia Brown from a life sentence scored a win this week with news that Governor Bill Haslam will be granting her clemency. Jailed as a teenager for murder, Brown drew national attention thanks to celebrities who lent their name to describing her troubles as a young sex-trafficking victim. The news of her impending release helped boost searches for the meaning of clemency 9,964%.

From the Latin clementia, the word means “an act or deed showing mercy or leniency.”


The Clemson Tigers snagged a national championship this week, defeating the top-seeded Alabama. But it was the Tigers’ offensive tackle, Cade Stewart, who made his mark on the Dictionary’s search list.

Searches for the meaning of mullet soared as folks checked out the history of Stewart’s signature hairstyle. The hairstyle in which the hair is short at the top and long at the back was popular in the 1980s.

WATCH: What Does "Juxtaposition" Actually Mean?


Actress Glenn Close seemed shocked with her win for best actress for The Wife at the Golden Globes, but the actress’ acceptance speech was one that spoke straight to people’s hearts.

Close, who plays a writer living in the shadow of her Nobel-winning husband, spoke of how her mom would sublimate herself to her husband. The result? A 1,490% spike in searches for sublimate. As a psychological term, the word means “to divert the energy of (a sexual or other biological impulse) from its immediate goal to one of a more acceptable social, moral, or aesthetic nature or use.”


The 12 days of Christmas came to an end, culminating on Sunday, January 6th, or as it’s known in Christians religions, Epiphany. Searches for the meaning behind the religious holiday, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi, were up this week, with a 255% boost.

Greenhouse gas

Independent economic research firm Rhodium Group had dire news for the United States this week: Greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018, climbing an estimated 3.4%. Also up? Searches for the meaning of greenhouse gas on

The umbrella term refers to “any of the gases whose absorption of solar radiation is responsible for the greenhouse effect, including carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and the fluorocarbons.”


The president accused Democrats of intransigence, boosting searches by 2,393%. So what is intransigence? The word means refusing to compromise or agree.

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