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'Ism' Word of the Year for Merriam-Webster Dictionary

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By    |   Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015 12:02 PM

The suffix "ism" has been named word of the year by the editors of Merriam-Webster dictionary – proving again that the best way to get attention for your word or person of the year is to name something that's not a word or person.

In November, Oxford Dictionaries named an emoji pictograph as its word of the year.

Back to ism, terrorism, socialism, fascism, racism and feminism were prominent in the words people searched for over the past year, said Time magazine, which likes to name things as person of the year.

"At the top of Merriam-Webster's lookup list was socialism, boosted by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' assertion that he is an adherent of democratic socialism and the vast ensuing confusion among voters about what Democratic socialism actually is," said the magazine's Katy Steinmetz.

"People were also turning to the dictionary this year to get a better handle on terms such terrorism, which spiked after tragedies tore apart towns like San Bernardino, Calif., as well as fascism, which saw a spike after presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested that the U.S. ban all Muslims from entry 'until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on' in the wake of such attacks," Steinmetz continued.

It's not the first time the suffix made an appearance on Merriam-Webster's word of the year list. In 2012, socialism and capitalism tied for the company's word of the year.

"Suffixes aren't words in the technical linguistic sense; they're bound morphemes – parts of words that can't stand alone," said Michael Schaub of the Los Angeles Times. "Merriam-Webster notes that the version of '-ism' without the hyphen actually is a word, specifically 'a noun meaning 'a distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory' or 'an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.'"

There were five other words that competed with ism for the Merriam-Webster word of the year competition, noted the Times: marriage, hypocrite, respect, inspiration and minion.

Ism now joins the word identity, which Dictionary.com last week named as its word of the year for 2015, said Time. 

Ism sparked a strong response on Twitter.


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The suffix "ism" has been named word of the year by the editors of Merriam-Webster dictionary – proving again that the best way to get attention for your word or person the the year is to name something that's not a word or person.
ism, word of year, merriam-webster, dictionary
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2015-02-16
Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015 12:02 PM
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