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Lookups spiked 1,100% on October 7, 2020
Litany jumped to the top of our lookups on October 7th, 2020, after Vice President Pence used the word in describing a list of Joe Biden’s supporters among Republicans.
Pence hits back at Harris touting about the GOP support Biden has. Calls it “a litany of the establishment in Washington, D.C. and the establishment Biden has long been a part of.”— Gabby Orr (@GabbyOrr_) October 8, 2020
Litany has a number of possible meanings, most of which are not applicable to the comments referenced above. The earliest meaning, dating from the 13th century, is “a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation.” In addition to this, the word may mean “a resonant or repetitive chant,” “a usually lengthy recitation or enumeration” (as in ‘a litany of complaints’), and “a sizable series or set” (as in ‘a litany of the establishment in Washington, D.C.’). Litany came to English through Anglo-French and Late Latin, ultimately from the Greek word litaneia, meaning "entreaty."
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.