Lookups spiked 8,000% on October 7, 2020
Kamala Harris used the term existential threat during the Vice Presidential debate on October 7, 2020, when referring to climate change.
Sen. Harris is the only person who has touched the debate stage (in the General) to name climate change as an existential threat. #Debates2020— Maybe: Camonghne Felix (@CAMONGHNE) October 8, 2020
Existential dates to the 17th century in English, a period during which many Latin words were brought into language that has an elevated tone.
For existential or sensual, I grant many, that there is a Sun that shineth, that the fire heateth, &c. yet a blind man and the Paralytick denies both.
— Philip King, The surfeit to A B C, 1656
The term existential threat, a common combination of words, dates to the 1960s:
”The basic existential threat of existence and its meaning constitutes the greatest 20th century threat to women as they enter the crucial 30’s,” according to the Rev. Thaxton Springfield.
— Helen De Groodt, The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, FL), 15 Mar. 1967
Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.