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Words at Play

Trending at Merriam-Webster: Week of 5/1

Curious what news sent people to the dictionary this week?


People look up random words all the time, but sometimes a lot of people look up the same word—usually because of something in the zeitgeist, such as a shared experience or event.

girl-applying-makeup

Lookups for 'fard' spiked on 5/6. The word means "to paint the face with cosmetics," but the spike probably has more to do with the word's resemblance to another word.

This week's lookups were driven by holidays and politics:

May 1st brought the annual spike in lookups for May Day. The holiday actually consists of multiple holidays which share a date and name, as it's both a celebration of spring and a day that honors working people. It does not have anything to do with the expression mayday.

Lookups for philanderer spiked 2650% on 5/3 after Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz used the word to describe Donald Trump. The charge must not have stuck: Trump won the Indiana primary, causing Cruz to drop out and lookups for presumptive to skyrocket.


Back to holidays: Cinco de Mayo spiked on Cinco de Mayo.

Back to politics: Hispanic spiked after Trump tweeted a photo of himself with a taco bowl and the caption "I love Hispanics!"

There is no entry in our dictionary for taco bowl.

Fard trended on 5/6. The word means "to paint (the face) with cosmetics"; however, we're pretty sure that's not why people were looking it up.

What words do you think will trend next week?



Seen and Heard