Mirriam Webster has announced the most looked-up words at its website for 2012, and they are “capitalism” and “socialism.”
Which I guess makes some sense—for all the times President Obama was called a “socialist” in the news over the last year for taking unprecedented steps to preserve beloved capitalist institutions like banks and the auto industry that were about to fall into oblivion on their own, it was easy to start forgetting what those words actually mean.
“They’re words that sort of encapsulate the zeitgeist. They’re words that are in the national conversation,” Mirriam Webster’s Peter Sokolowski told the AP. As far as I can tell, their definitions in the national conversation are that capitalist means “good guy” and socialist means “bad guy.”
And that hasn’t changed now that the election is over. Obama is trying to raise the top tax bracket right now because he’s a “socialist” |ˈsōSHəˌlist| (noun) — a bad person.
Other words rounding out the top 10 list included democracy, globalization, marriage and bigot. The one 50-cent word on the list? Schadenfreude.