Ultima Thule, Bandersnatch, And Other Trending Words On Dictionary.com

Thanks to the holidays, we’re serving up two weeks worth of words that have trended on Dictionary.com! From Santa Claus to outer space, here’s what had folks searching for meaning.

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 Dictionary.com users learned the phrase is Latin for “the highest degree attainable.”

Incapacitated

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).”

Tannenbaum

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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Auburn

The Auburn Tigers didn’t just crush the Purdue Boilermakers in the Music City Bowl in late December. The school also worked its way into Dictionary.com 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.”

Resolution

The new year is here, and plenty of you are out there trying to make sense of your resolutions. The first stop? Hitting Dictionary.com 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?

Bandersnatch

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 Dictionary.com 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.”

Marginal

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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