Grammar

Merriam-Webster Names ‘Justice’ 2018’s Word of the Year

The annual selection of a word of the year can be very telling when you look back at the past 12 months. This year, that word is ‘justice.’

Has 2018 really been a year of justice?

Your answer might depend on your politics, your gender or even your sexual orientation.

For 15 years, Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, have been selecting a single word to represent the year. For 2018, that particular word was the most-voted word. Editors say it was looked up an incredible 74% more often than it had been the previous year.

That’s quite a jump.

But, for Merriam-Webster, according to its blog, it’s not necessarily a surprise:

“The concept of justice was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice. In any conversation about these topics, the question of just what exactly we mean when we use the term justice is relevant, and part of the discussion.”

Editors point to examples like the ongoing Mueller investigation and the confirmation process for new Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh as reasons the word might have seen a particularly high number of searches.

But Merriam-Webster’s editors also listed other words that were definitely in the running for the annual honor. Those selections included:

  • Nationalism
  • Pansexual
  • Lodestar
  • Epiphany
  • Feckless
  • Laurel
  • Pissant
  • Respect
  • Maverick
  • Excelsior

Laurel surely made the list because of that crazy debate over whether a recorded word sounded like “laurel” or “yanni.” (I heard “laurel” so clearly that I couldn’t imagine how anyone could possibly hear “yanni.”)

The late Sen. John McCain was responsible for two of the words listed: Maverick, a word that definitely described him; and lodestar, because of a New York Times editorial that referred to him with that term.

Lodestar originally meant “a star that leads or guides (especially the North Star),” editors pointed out. “It now is used to mean “one that serves as an inspiration, model, or guide.” 

Of the 11 words listed, which would you have selected as the word of the year?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.