(Reuters) – “Justice” is what most people sought on Merriam-Webster, among the world’s most popular dictionaries, as the US publisher named that principle of being fair as the Word of the Year for 2018.
Users looked up the word 74 percent more often than in 2017, said spokeswoman Meghan Lunghi for the website, which claims to be “America’s most trusted dictionary.”
The surge was prompted by specific uses of the word such as “obstruction of justice,” after US President Donald Trump tweeted in August that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election, the company said in a statement.
“It’s often familiar words for abstract concepts that are among the most looked up words,” said Emily Brewster, associate editor for Merriam-Webster, in the statement. “When common words like justice are used in contexts that are very specific, technical, or legal, people look them up in the dictionary for the detail and nuance that a definition can provide.”
“Justice” joined Dictionary.com’s “misinformation” and the Oxford English Dictionary’s “toxic” as top words of the year.
Other frontrunners for Merriam-Webster’s distinction, based on frequency of searches, were “nationalism,” “pansexual,” “lodestar,” “epiphany,” “feckless,” “laurel,” “pissant,” “respect,” “maverick” and “excelsior.”