Trend Watch

How News Coverage Impacts Dictionary Lookups

Michael Jackson's death sent many people to the dictionary. What did they look up?


play video resuscitate stricken icon condolences rip and other words that spiked when michael jackson died
32,904 views
Featuring: Peter Sokolowski

TRANSCRIPT


Welcome to Ask the Editor, I'm Peter Sokolowski editor at large here at Merriam-Webster.
 
When Michael Jackson died, many people looked up the words used in the news coverage of his death and the investigation and memorials that followed. Whenever there's a big news story like this, it's possible to sort of track what people are thinking about, according to what words are being looked up online.
 
The morning that Michael Jackson died, the words stricken and resuscitate were the most looked up words. And by that afternoon, the words condolences and icon joined them near the top of the list.
 
The next day the word resuscitate replaced stricken as the most looked up word.
 
And for the weekend, the abbreviation R.I.P. for the Latin phrase Requiescat in Pace, or rest in peace was the most looked up term. It's unusual for us to see an abbreviation in the number one spot.
 
The next day, emaciated was the most looked up word, in fact, it remained the most looked-up term for the whole week and on average was the most looked-up word all summer.
 
And it shows a sort of fascinating intersection of news and vocabulary.
 
Look for more segments of Ask the Editor here at Merriam-Webster.com

Up Next

Autoplay
play merriam-webster eggcorns title page
What Is an Eggcorn?

 

23,028 views

play hot mess
Hot Mess

 

151,551 views

play mrs malaprop
What is a Malaprop?

 

136,539 views

play alright allright video
Alright vs. All Right

 

134,292 views

play there theyre their video
There, They're, Their

 

101,139 views

play sneaked vs snuck video
Sneaked vs. Snuck

 

55,306 views

play further vs farther video
Further vs. Farther

 

46,235 views

play video lay vs lie
Lay vs. Lie

 

315,077 views

play fun funner funnest
Fun, Funner, Funnest

 

258,093 views

play video old school grammar humorsome
Old-School Grammar

 

239,337 views

play video schwa
The Schwa

 

159,825 views

play video ie vs eg
i.e. vs. e.g.

 

166,537 views

play video its vs its
Its vs. It's

 

76,757 views

play video healthy vs healthful
Healthy vs. Healthful

 

105,624 views

play video between you and i or me
I vs. Me

 

67,415 views

play video literally
Literally

 

437,931 views

play video hopefully
Hopefully

 

91,739 views

play video who vs whom
Who vs. Whom

 

82,511 views

play video affect vs effect
Affect vs. Effect

 

113,059 views