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Trend Watch

Culture

Labor Day means back to school, and that means lookups of the word "culture" spike at Merriam-Webster.com.


When:

Lookups on Merriam-Webster.com started spiking around September 10, an annual phenomenon we've reported on for a few years running.

culture

Why:

Students arriving at college were greeted, as usual, with plenty of culture.

For example, a few course titles in one catalogue: "Nationalism, Colonialism, and Culture," "American Material Culture," and "Visual Culture in Early Modern Spain."

But what does it mean?

Merriam-Webster's definition of culture includes a couple of senses relevant to the academic use:

: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic

Beyond that, exploring the range of this word is partly what student life is about.

Culture comes from Latin: "to cultivate land."

UPDATE: Beyond back-to-school, the word "culture" has seen an ongoing increase in lookups such that it became our Word of the Year for 2014.



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