What’s the Word?

Let the zeitgeist watch begin. With time running out on 2005, some popular Websites have begun to look back at what we’ve all been looking for. In recent days, AOL, Lycos, and Merriam-Webster released their lists of the most-searched terms of the year. AOL’s top words include “lottery,” “horoscopes,” and “tattoos” as well as “IRS,” “American Idol,” and “NASCAR.” The most commonly searched celebrities included–no surprise–Paris Hilton, Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Simpson, and, yes, Britney Spears. That matched up well with the results announced by Lycos, where scantily clad sensations Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson, and Britney Spears topped the list. Lycos’s top “fads” of the year include poker, iPods, and an online adventure game called RuneScape.

Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster on Monday announced the top ten words searched on its site. Most relate to stories that made headlines this year; “refugee,” “tsunami,” “filibuster,” “pandemic,” and “levee” all made the list. But the word of the year? Integrity. “Perhaps it’s not too much of a stretch to think that recent political and social developments have made the word integrity particularly appropriate to issues that people are talking about,” Merriam-Webster’s president and publisher suggested in the statement announcing the list.

In case you’re wondering, here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition:

Pronunciation: in-‘te-gr&-tE
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English integrite, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French integrité, from Latin integritat-, integritas, from integr-, integer entire
1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY
2 : an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS
synonym see HONESTY