‘Culture’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2014

Merriam-Webster's 2014 word of the year is "culture."
(Stephan Savoia / Associated Press)

Merriam-Webster dictionary has declared “culture” the word of the year for 2014. Of the top 10 words in the running for the honor, culture had a 15% year-over-year increase in look-ups on the dictionary company’s website and in its app.

“We’re simply using the word culture more frequently,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told the Associated Press.

Actually, there’s an informal “battle of the word of the year” going on between various dictionary outlets. The Oxford Dictionaries announced its word of the year for 2014 last month: “vape,” also “vaping,” i.e., smoking via an e-cigarette.

Oxford Dictionaries tends to go for new words as they’re being widely adopted. In 2013, their pick was “selfie,” in 2012, “gif.”


Merriam-Webster’s picks are comparatively staid: in 2013, their word of the year was “science”; in 2012, “socialism” and “capitalism” shared the honor, and in 2011, it went to “pragmatic.”

Merriam-Webster doesn’t just pick one word; each year, it announces a top 10. In 2014, the No. 1 “culture” was followed by “nostalgia,” “insidious,” “legacy,” “feminism,” “je ne sais quoi,” “innovation,” “surreptitious,” “autonomy” and “morbidity.”

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