Ultima Thule, Bandersnatch, And Other Trending Words On

Thanks to the holidays, we’re serving up two weeks worth of words that have trended on! From Santa Claus to outer space, here’s what had folks searching for meaning December 21, 2018–January 4, 2019.

Ultima Thule

Space fans spent the week watching as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by the most distant space object ever explored. Dubbed Ultima Thule, the object is some 4 billion miles from Earth. So, how did it get its name? Searches for Ultima Thule rocketed 3,468% as users learned the phrase is Latin for “the highest degree attainable.”


Former Vermont Governor and one-time Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean helped send searches for the word incapacitated up 1,279% during an appearance on MSNBC. Asked about the possibility of a border wall and the current government shutdown, Dean called President Donald Trump “mentally incapacitated.” The word means “unable to act, respond, or the like (often used euphemistically when one is busy or otherwise occupied).”


Did you decorate a Christmas tree this holiday season? Or perhaps you held out for the Tannenbaum? The German loanword for “Christmas tree” saw a spike in searches just in time for the holiday itself.

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The Auburn Tigers didn’t just crush the Purdue Boilermakers in the Music City Bowl in December 2018. The school also worked its way into searches, with queries for the meaning of auburn climbing into our trends. Although the school is named for the Alabama city where it’s located, the word auburn (with a lowercase a) means “a reddish-brown or golden-brown color.”


The new year is here, and plenty of you are out there trying to make sense of your resolutions. The first stop? Hitting to find out just what a resolution is. Defined as “a decision or determination,” a resolution could be to make fewer grammar mistakes this year or learn a few new words. Might we suggest our Word of the Day emails?


Black Mirror fans got a chance to choose their own adventure with Netflix’s new movie-length release, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. But, just what is a bandersnatch?

That’s what plenty of folks were asking over the holiday. The answer? A bandersnatch is both “an imaginary wild animal of fierce disposition” and “a person of uncouth or unconventional habits, attitudes, etc., especially one considered a menace, nuisance, or the like.”


One adjective jumped 367% in searches on Christmas Day after media reported that President Donald Trump had told a 7-year-old girl that belief in Santa Claus at her age was “marginal.” The word means “at the outer or lower limits.”

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