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Words at Play

Who Made "Rogue" So Big In 2008?

Top 10 Words of the '00s

Photo: Wikipedia

This became one of the most frequently looked up words on our site following Sarah Palin's embrace of it - first during her candidacy and later in the title of her book, Going Rogue.

Rogue, meaning "one who can't be controlled," comes from rogue elephant - one that "roams alone."


"She's lost confidence in most of the people on [her] plane," said a senior Republican.... He said Palin had begun to "go rogue" in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

-Time.com, October 2008

The locavore eats food grown locally; for some, the "100 Mile Diet" defines "locally."


It seems Marfisi was destined to become a locavore from an early age. He clearly remembers the first seeds he planted as a 7-year-old in Missouri.

-Los Angeles Times, June 2008

The decade's parade of corporate accounting scandals - featuring Enron, WorldCom, AIG, etc. - led many to wonder about a quality that seemed more often preached than practiced.

A person with integrity has high moral values; the word is related to the math term integer, meaning "whole."


President Obama and Vice President Biden publicly welcomed Sen. Arlen Specter ... calling him a man of "immense personal courage" and "unmatched integrity."

-FOXNews.com, April 2009

This let's-make-the-best-of-it word zoomed into the language and became associated with the national mood during The Great Recession.


For travelers, it was a year in which many pondered taking a staycation rather than face the cost and hassle of flying.

-USA Today, January 2009

Throughout the decade (and beyond), this word - which emphasizes one's allegiance to the part rather than the whole - characterized America's deeply divided politics.


The moderate convention speakers ... are expected to stick to safe partisan topics such as praise for Bush's leadership.

-Seattle P-I, August 2004

Internet mavens led the way, but soon almost everyone turned this brand into a verb. As a result, it entered the exclusive club of trademarks that are used generically.

Xerox, jeep, kleenex, dumpster : meet the new overachiever.


Several years ago when I was living in Washington, I met a man the old-fashioned way: tipsily, in a bar. Then I ruined my chances with him the new-fashioned way. I Googled him.

-New York Times, September 2008

This word comes from the Latin, meaning "to rise up."

Far more neutral than terms like "terrorist" and "freedom fighter," it often appears in news accounts - and inspired a lot of lookups early in the Iraq war.


"Insurgents now are more active [and] more organized, and the political environment, whether in Pakistan or Afghanistan, favors insurgent activities."

-A Security Analyst quoted in the Huffington Post, June 2008

Attempting to grasp what happened when the government gave money to Wall Street, many people started with the dictionary definition - making this one of the most looked-up terms of the crisis.


U.S. President George W. Bush, saying "our entire economy is in danger," urged Congress to approve his administration's $700 billion bailout proposal.

-CNN.com, September 2008

In 2005 it was bird flu; in 2009, swine flu.

The resulting travel restrictions made it clear that a pandemic spreads across an even wider area - in these cases, across continents - than an epidemic.


A White House spokesman said the administration soon will release "a pandemic flu plan" that is expected to address the critical issue of U.S. flu vaccine manufacturing capacity.

-Chicago Tribune, October 2005

Carbon footprint
Up Next

Where On Earth Does "Bikini" Come From?

As climate change became one of the leading issues of the decade, this succinct phrase helped make a global challenge personal.


"There are some good things, but it's frustrating because you see how much better some other communities are doing when it comes to climate change and reducing their carbon footprint."

-An Environmentalist quoted in the Florida Times Union, September 2008

Seen and Heard