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‘Ism’ is ‘Word of the Year’

  • VOA News

Merriam-Webster selected 'ism' as this year's word of the year.

Merriam-Webster selected 'ism' as this year's word of the year.

Dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2015 isn’t a word, it’s the suffix “ism.”

The company said it chose ism because of the high number of people searching for various isms. Among the most popular isms were socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism, the company told the Associated Press.

"We had a lot on our minds this year," mused Peter Sokolowski, the Springfield, Massachusetts-based company's editor at large, in a recent interview with AP. "It's a serious year. These are words of ideas and practices. We're educating ourselves."

“Facism” spiked in November after a video was released showing a white police officer shooting a black teen in Chicago, the company said.

Facism also has seen a spike the company attributes to the presidential campaign of billionaire Donald Trump, who has been criticized for incendiary remarks, particularly for calling for a"total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

Another presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, was responsible for a surge in searches of the word “socialism.”

"The big spikes have been associated with the fact that we have a presidential candidate who identifies as a Democratic Socialist," Sokolowski said. "We saw that even though socialism was in the Top 10 of the most looked-up words in the whole history of the site, it increased in a spike beginning in late July when Bernie Sanders had a multicity rally that was organized through social media and attracted about 100,000 people in 3,000 communities or more around the country."

“Racism” saw a spike in searches after the South Carolina church shootings and student protests at the University of Missouri.

Isms have been the company’s word of the year before, with “capitalism” and “socialism” sharing the title in 2012.

Earlier this year, Oxford Dictionaries also went with a non-word, instead opting for the “face with tears of joy” emoji.

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