Merriam-Webster Totally Snubs ‘Syzygy’, Names ‘Feminism’ Word Of The Year

In news that I’m sure will be devastating to all the syzygy-heads out there, Merriam-Webster has passed over the seemingly impossible to pronounce word for the linear alignment of multiple celestial bodies (think the start of 2001) in favour of the much more mouth-friendly ‘feminism’.

The dictionary today released its list of top 10 words for 2017, chosen on the basis of how much more they were looked up this year compared to previous years and how often they were searched in the wake of major events throughout the year.

According to editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski, feminism was searched for 70% more in 2017 than it was 2016, something they attribute to a range of events:

Feminism spiked following news coverage of the Women’s March on Washington, DC in January (and other related marches held around the country and internationally), and follow-up discussions regarding whether the march was feminist, and what kind of feminism was represented by organizers and attendees. The word spiked again when Kellyanne Conway said during an interview that she didn’t consider herself a feminist. In this case, the definition of feminism was itself the subject of the news story—an invitation for many people to look up the word.

Interest in the dictionary definition of feminism was also driven by entertainment this year: we saw increased lookups after the release of both Hulu’s series The Handmaid’s Tale and the film Wonder Woman.

More recently, lookups of feminism have been increasing in conjunction with the many accounts of sexual assault and harassment in the news. Many women have come forward to share their stories with journalists and many more women joined in on social media using the #MeToo hashtag to say that they too have been affected by such behavior. The string of breaking news stories regarding the resignations, firings, or dismissals of men who have been charged with sexual harassment or assault has kept this story in the news.

For those of you absolutely gagging to see the complete top 10, here’s the full list of contenders:

10. Gaffe
9. Hurricane
8. Federalism
7. Gyro
6. Syzygy
5. Dotard
4. Empathy
3. Recuse
2. Complicit
1. Feminism

It’s pretty obvious that a lot of these (complicit, recuse, dotard, federalism) come from either Trump or Trump-adjacent nonsense, with some it is immediately obvious why they would come up (a lot of hurricanes this year), and some are a little more abstract (surely looking up the word ’empathy’ is a red flag).

Congratulations on now knowing what syzygy is. Sure beats the piss out of ‘kwaussie’.