'Austerity' Named Word of the Year

      December 22, 2010 09:50

      Merriam-Webster has chosen "austerity" as the word of the year, the U.S. reference book publisher announced Monday, as it was looked up over 250,000 times this year on the company's online dictionary.

      First emerging in the 14th-century, the noun is defined as "the quality or state of being austere" or "enforced or extreme economy," AP reported. The word was used frequently this year as a series of European countries announced austerity measures to tackle the debt crisis.

      Runners-up included "pragmatic," "shellacking," "moratorium," and "socialism," as well as "dissident" and "bigot." 

      Merriam-Webster editor Peter Sokolowski said that the top 10 words are all connected with news events, as people often look up words that trigger their curiosity when they see them used in news stories.

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