Home / Take That Selfie: ‘Science’ Tops Merriam Webster Publishers Word List For 2013

Take That Selfie: ‘Science’ Tops Merriam Webster Publishers Word List For 2013

Better look alive, selfie – there’s another word of the year that’s not all about you. Merriam Webster announced today that ‘Science’ has also topped a prestigious list by becoming the publisher’s word of the year for 2013. While Oxford University Press declared those little smartphone self-portraits its winner last month, today the folks at Merriam-Webster announced their pick, “science”.

Merriam Webster's Word of the Year

Oxford tracked a huge jump in overall usage of selfie, but Merriam-Webster stuck primarily to look-ups on its website, recording a 176 percent increase for science when compared with last year.

“The more we thought about it, the righter it seemed in that it does lurk behind a lot of big stories that we as a society are grappling with, whether it’s climate change or environmental regulation or what’s in our textbooks,” said John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc., based in Springfield, Mass.

Science is connected to the  power of observation and intuition, reason and ideology, evidence and tradition.

The fact that science scored so high in 2013 is a hopeful sign. It’s a word that implies a certain rigor, an intellectual discipline, a systemized accumulation of facts that can have a wonderful binary quality to them. Science, according to Merriam-Webster Editor-at-Large Peter Sokolowski, is the word behind the news in 2013.

“It is a word that is connected to broad cultural dichotomies: observation and intuition, evidence and tradition,” Sokolowski said in a statement. “A wide variety of discussions centered on science this year, from climate change to educational policy. We saw heated debates about ‘phony’ science, or whether science held all the answers.”


The second-most fascinating word of 2013 had a scientific bent as well. That word was “cognitive,” defined by the dictionary as “of, relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity (as thinking, reasoning, or remembering).”

Cognitive may have gotten a boost from increasing awareness of traumatic brain injury in the National Football League, National Hockey League, and among military veterans, according to Merriam-Webster.

“People are not only interested in knowing more about how injuries affect cognitive function, but also how age and other factors affect cognitive function and development,” Sokolowski said.


Here is the full list of Merriam-Webster’s Top 10 Words of the Year

  1. science
  2. cognitive
  3. rapport
  4. communication
  5. niche
  6. ethic
  7. paradox
  8. visceral
  9. integrity
  10. metaphor


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