Austerity Word Of Year 2010

December 15, 2011 by staff 

Austerity Word Of Year 2010, As Greece faced a debt crisis, the government passed a series of strict austerity measures, including taxes hikes and cutting public sector pay.

The move sparked angry protests, strikes and riots across the country as unemployment skyrocketed and the crisis spread to other European nations. The move also incited a rush to online dictionaries from those searching for a definition.

Austerity, the 14th century noun defined as “the quality or state of being austere” and “enforced or extreme economy,” set off enough searches that Merriam-Webster named it as its Word of the Year for 2010, the dictionary’s editors announced Monday.

John Morse, president and publisher of the Springfield, Mass.-based dictionary, said “austerity” saw more than 250,000 searches on the dictionary’s free online tool and came with more coverage of the debt crisis.

“What we look for … what are the words that have had spikes that strike us very much as an anomaly for their regular behavior,” Morse said. “The word that really qualifies this year for that is ‘austerity’.”

Runners-up also announced Monday included “pragmatic,” “moratorium,” “socialism,” and “bigot” – the last word resulted from public uses by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former CNN host Rick Sanchez and former NPR senioranlyst Juan Williams.

Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large, said this year’s top 10 words were associated with a news event or coverage, which editors believe resulted in prolonged jumps in searches.

“Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the searches on one particular news event, but typically that is what sparks people’s curiosity in a word,” Sokolowski said.

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