Trend Watch

Surreal

When:

Lookups spiked on April 15, 2013.

Why:

Used in some of the media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, surreal means "marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream."

The same word was frequently looked up after the 9/11 attacks.

A relatively new word in English, surreal dates only to the 1930s. It comes from the name of the artistic movement known as surrealism, whose effect was often created "by means of unnatural or irrational juxtapositions and combinations."

Photo: Joe Spurr / flickr

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
February 27, 2015
rationale Hear it
An explanation or underlying reason
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears