Americans Looked Up Socialism and Capitalism Most in 2012

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Dec. 6 2012 3:35 PM

Americans Looked Up Socialism and Capitalism Most in 2012

At least people looked them up.

After a long election cycle awash in overheated claims about political ideology, Merriam-Webster named socialism and capitalism its 2012 words of the year.

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The venerable reference book bases its annual choices on search volume from its website. Peter Sokolowski, the dictionary’s editor at large, said the words trended together in searches, with especially large spikes when President Obama’s health care law was in the news. Socialism was also very popular on Election Day.

Other top words were tied to the presidential debates, including malarkey and meme, alongside perennial favorites like marriage. Perhaps most surprising was the appearance at No. 5 of democracy—a concept one would think Americans could comprehend.

Jeffrey Bloomer is a Slate Video assistant editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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