Lookups spiked on November 3, 2010, after midterm election results were reported.
President Obama used the word when acknowledging that Democratic losses provided humbling lessons:
"Now, I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night. I'm sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons."
A shellacking is a decisive defeat.
The word comes from the combination of "shell" and "lacquer" -- a shellac is a type of lacquer that becomes as hard as a shell.
But how did shellacking acquire the sense that President Obama used?
It seems that shellac had come to mean both "to get drunk" and "to beat up" as a slang term by the 1930s, and one (or both) of these senses led to the "defeat decisively" meaning used today.
Photo: D.H. Parks / flickr