From Final Jeopardy to toothbrushes made from panda’s favorite snack, the trending words on Dictionary.com took us all around the world and back again during the week of July 20–27, 2018. Get ready, get set, go word-crazy!
An attempt by Brock Turner’s lawyer to have his sexual assault conviction overturned—based on a claim that Turner only intended to have outercourse with his victim—sent hundreds of people to the dictionary (and to the @dictionarycom Twitter) to find out if outercourse was a real word. The verdict? It is indeed. Popularized in the 1990s, outercourse means sexual activity between two or more people that does not involve penetration.
Monday’s Final Jeopardy challenge had a fair amount of folks stumped, at least by the looks of searches for paramnesia on Dictionary.com. Queries climbed a whopping 22,300% after host Alex Trebek read off the answer “Paramnesia is another term for this French-named phenomenon–sound familiar?” The question he was looking for was “What is deja vu?” So what is paramnesia? According to our definition, the term can refer to a distortion of memory in which fact and fantasy are confused.
Its other meaning may be more fitting here, however. Paramnesia can also mean the inability to recall the correct meaning of a word!
WATCH: President Trump Drives Searches For “Tapp,” “Council,” And Other Spelling Blunders
The journalism community took a hard hit this week with publishing company Tronc cutting the editorial staff of the New York Daily News in half. More than 40 reporters and editors lost their jobs, and the news sent searches for editorial spiking 69% on Dictionary.com, too. In this context, editorial is an adjective that describes the literary and artistic activities or contents of a publication, broadcasting organization, or the like, as distinguished from its business activities, advertisements, etc.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) July 23, 2018
If you’re not watching HBO’s Sharp Objects, you probably know someone who is. And you just might know the fans who helped diegetic climb up 404% this week. How are the two connected? The onus is on Atlantic writer Spencer Kornhaber, who referred to the music in the show as diegetic in an article this week, in which he explores the connection between the mystery of the show and its soundtrack. Diegetic, by the way, refers to the telling of a story by a narrator who summarizes events in the plot and comments on the conversations, thoughts, etc., of the characters.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan accused President Trump of trolling this week, sending plenty of folks to Dictionary.com to find out just what the word means, sending searches up 1,089%. When it comes to digital technology, trolling can mean both posting inflammatory or inappropriate messages or comments on (the internet, especially a message board) for the purpose of upsetting other users and provoking a response and upsetting or provoking (other users) by posting such messages or comments.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) July 24, 2018
We can’t be sure just what caused an 88% rise in searches for gullible, but allow us to take a moment to put an end to the worst dad joke of all time. Yes, gullible really is in the dictionary. It’s right here.
Holy snack attack, Batman. This week we saw recalls of both Goldfish and Ritz crackers and a 474% spike in searches for the meaning of salmonella to go along with them. Although no one has been sickened, the companies that produce some of America’s favorite treats said the risk of salmonella contamination was reason enough to pull the snacks from our shelves. Salmonella refers to rod-shaped, facultatively anaerobic bacteria of the genus Salmonella, as S. typhosa, that may enter the digestive tract of humans and other mammals in contaminated food and cause abdominal pains and violent diarrhea. Something tells us you don’t really need a snack after reading that.
Move over plastic straws, the hot topic of the week was bamboo toothbrush handles, thanks to Christina Ramirez and her start-up, Plus Ultra. The favored snack of pandas shot up on our trending word list, too, up 156%. For the uninitiated, bamboo can refer to any of the woody or treelike tropical and semitropical grasses of the genera Bambusa, Phyllostachys, Dendrocalamus, and allied genera, having woody, usually hollow stems with stalked blades and flowering only after years of growth.