play video resuscitate stricken icon condolences rip and other words that spiked when michael jackson died
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How News Coverage Impacts Dictionary Lookups

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



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

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