Trend Watch

Lookups for 'Gaffe' Spike After Unprecedented Slip-Up at Oscars

'Moonlight' was the real winner

Lookups for gaffe spiked on February 27, 2017 after the wrong envelope was opened at the climax of the Oscars. The truth—that “Moonlight” was the real winner of Best Picture—was revealed only after producers of “La La Land” had made heartfelt acceptance speeches.

(Lookups for la-la land, meaning “a euphoric dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life” also showed a significant spike.)

But it wasn’t the only error of the night: gaffe also labeled the mistake made during the “In Memoriam” segment when a photo of the very much still-alive producer Jan Chapman was used in the tribute to the late costume designer Janet Patterson.

Gaffe means "a mistake made in a social situation" or "a noticeable mistake." Social media exploded with reaction and analysis to both errors. Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel took the microphone to say, “I blame Steve Harvey,” whose mistake in announcing the winner of the Miss Universe Pageant in 2015 also caused a spike in lookups for gaffe.

Gaffe was borrowed from French, where it originally meant "boat hook." Sailors' slang for the mistakes of inexperienced shipmates probably evolved into the word's current meaning.

Trend Watch tracks and reports on the words that people are looking up. You can see all the Trend Watch articles here.

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