A nation, a workplace, an ethnicity, a passion, an outsized personality. The people who comprise these things, who fawn or rail against them, are behind Merriam-Webster’s 2014 word of the year: culture.
The word joins Oxford Dictionaries’ “vape,” a darling of the e-cigarette movement, and “exposure,” declared the year’s winner at Dictionary.com during a time of tragedy and fear due to Ebola.
Merriam-Webster based its pick and nine runners-up on significant increases in lookups this year over last on Merriam-Webster.com, along with notable, often culture-driven — if you will — spikes of concentrated interest.
In the No. 2 spot is “nostalgia,” during a year of big 50th anniversaries pegged to 1964: the start of the free speech movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the birth of the Ford Mustang and the British Invasion heralded by the landing of the Beatles on U.S. soil for the first time.
Nostalgia was followed by insidious, legacy, feminism and a rare multiword phrase that can be looked up in total, in a foreign language at that: the French “je ne sais quoi.”