Trend Watch


On the 130th anniversary of Franz Kafka's birth ...


Lookups spiked on July 3, 2013.


Dictionary users were looking up Kafkaesque in honor of author Franz Kafka's 130th birthday.

Kafka may have been surprised (and pleased) to know that one of his legacies was the word Kafkaesque - an adjective inspired by his writing that means "having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality."

Kafkaesque has been a favorite of modern writers since it entered English in 1946. In the last month alone, the word appeared in the New York Times, the Irish Times, the Vancouver (BC) Sun, Mother Jones, the Guardian, and the Washington Post, where we find this typical use:

"Jen Hoelzer, who served as communications director to Sen. Ron Wyden, recalls the Kafkaesque experience of trying to help her boss communicate the dangers of an NSA program he couldn't tell her about."

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