December 11, 2005

Searching for "integrity".... and other words.

"Integrity" is the most looked-up word of the last year, according to one on-line dictionary. There are words you look up because you don't know what they mean at all, and words -- like "integrity," I'm sure -- that you basically know but, for some reason, want a precise or authoritative definition of. I think it's rather touching that so many people were looking up "integrity." Were they searching for the right path in their own lives? Or were they just framing arguments against their opponents? I picture a web full of indignant political bloggers and guess that it's the latter.

Other words that made the list suggest that the news is what drives large numbers of dictionary users to the same word: filibuster, refugee, tsunami, levee, pandemic, conclave, inept. "Conclave" is pope-related. "Inept"? It's got to be Bush-related.

18 comments:

DEC said...

Maybe they just want to see how to spell the words.

Dave said...

If "inept" is Bush-related, then what's the relevant word during the Clinton era? I would have thought "integrity."

EricP said...

what's the relevant word during the Clinton era?

"sexual relations"

retired randy said...

The relevant word fror the Bush Administration, then, would be "Criminal" as in War Criminal.

AnechoicRoom said...

Well podpeople is coming into use as well (as different from past use). Maybe people are just reminiscing ..... going back in time. Idealizing the past. Like in the movie It's a Wonderful Life, where it seemed that in spite of any individual's frailty or humanness, they all had integrity (except of course for Mr. Potter).

reader_iam said...

Great book on integrity:

Integrity

And another terrific one, by the same author:

Civility

Great non-fiction for those who like ideas. Accessible, too, and not too long.

Back to work ...

Dave said...

BTW, I notice that the web site is one run by Merriam-Webster.

I'm curious how many people look up definitions through their web site, as opposed to via Google. Here's Google's entry on integrity.

I don't know Merriam-Webster's URL but I do know Google's. It's much easier, for me, at least, to type in Google.com and google the word and click on the definition than to look up Merrian-Webster's URL, and do it that way.

I wouldn't be surprised if the number of words looked up on Google dwarfs the number looked up through Merrian-Webster's web site.

I don't know how that would affect the most popular word. For all we know, it's still integrity.

reader_iam said...

[W]hat's the relevant word during the Clinton era?

dave and ericp:

You're both wrong!

The relevant word would be (of course):

IS!

; )

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

MrsWhatsit said...

Phooey -- reader_iam beat me to the joke.

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe the #1 entry was a result of what John Kerry's mother supposedly said to him on her death bed: "Integrity, Integrity, Integrity".

Bruce Hayden said...

I use an online dictionary as a spell checker for situations, like this, where I don't have one built in. I will try Google for awhile to see if it is easier.

Mickey said...

Inept is bush related? Integrity wont allow me to comment on that!

Integrity is oft looked up because few are willing to pay the price, once they know the cost.

Palladian said...

I wonder how many of these words were looked up in order to paste the definition as the beginning of a blog comment- one of the world's most puerile and annoying debate tactics.

I love that Apple includes a little dictionary program with the OS now so I don't have to bother waiting for an online service, those times when I don't want to haul the micro OED off the shelf.

tefta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

I deleted Tefta's comment because it named a specific business and asserted that it had done bad things that we have no way to check. I don't want that on this blog. No offense, Tefta -- I know you meant nothing wrong.

tefta said...

Ann, Thanks, but that was over twenty years ago and the people involved as well as the business are long gone.

My point was that perhaps the reason that so many people are looking up the word, integrity, is because they don't have any.

I should have made that clear.

Ann Þø said...

Secret law!

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_12/007745.php

They talk about you:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_12/007745.php


YOU HAVE GOT TO COMMENT Þ

Mickey said...

secret law-gilmore-I.D.-airplane
-lawsuit-peculiar-cnet


astute !