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Malarkey and schadenfreude and other words of the year

December 5, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
This is kind of a sad commentary on our times: According to an AP story, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary people say that "socialism" and "capitalism" were the site's most looked-up words of 2012.

I wonder if the people looking up those words came to a better understanding of exactly what a socialist and a capitalist is and is not. I grew tired during the election of people turning "socialism" into an insult without understanding what they were actually talking about.

According to Merriam-Webster, the election also influenced other words that were looked up. Vice President Joe Biden used the word "malarkey" during the vice presidential debate and apparently everyone watching looked up that word at the same time. The dictionary says the word means "nonsense" and also "insincere or pretentious talk or writing designed to impress one and usually to distract attention from ulterior motives or actual conditions." I'd say a lot of the political speech this year qualifies as malarkey.

"Schadenfreude," another word frequently looked up, also more than fits the political mood this year. It is a German word that means "taking joy in the misery of others."

The world would be a lot better off if fewer people – particularly Congress – engaged in malarkey and schadenfreude in the coming year and instead engaged in "professionalism," another of the dictionary site's words of the year.

 
 

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