2014 in words: 'Culture' joins 'vape' and 'exposure' as words of the year

Publish date:
Social count:
Image placeholder title

"Culture" is Merriam-Webster's word of the year for 2014.

The dictionary landed on culture by figuring out which of their most popular words experienced the biggest spike in lookups this year compared to last year.

"Culture is a word that we seem to be relying on more and more. It allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group with seriousness," Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, said in a statement. "And it's efficient: we talk about the 'culture' of a group rather than saying 'the typical habits, attitudes, and behaviors' of that group."

Other publications have already named their word of the year. Oxford Dictionary picked "vape" for its connection to the e-cigarette movement, while Dictionary.com chose "exposure" for its tie to big news stories of the year, including the Ebola outbreak.

Merriam-Webster says culture is typically a big word around back-to-school time, but they think people looked it up beyond the school year because phrases such as "celebrity culture," "rape culture" and "company culture" graced headlines nationwide.

Culture was looked up 15 percent more this year than it was last year, according to The Associated Press.

Last year's Merriam-Webster word of the year was science.


Culture of street justice stoked Nizzel George's death

The first-degree murder charges against Stephon Terrell Shannon and an unnamed 15-year-old detail retaliatory street justice that police and community leaders say led to 5-year-old Nizzel George's death last Tuesday, when the shooters allegedly fired at the boy's house as payback for an earlier shooting. It's a culture of silence and retribution that police and others decried as they urged more witnesses to come forward, the Star Tribune reports.

Next Up