Every Merriam-Webster 'Word Of The Year,' Ranked By How Much People Actually Use Them



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Vote up the “Words of the Year” you actually use.

Since 2003, Merriam-Webster has put out its list of top “Words of the Year.” The choices include 10 of the most influential and prevalent words used in mainstream media, popular culture, and across the zeitgeist. 

Initially chosen by data from visits to Merriam-Webster's website, the Words of the Year transitioned in 2006 to ones determined by online polls and website user suggestions. The results range from long-established nouns, verbs, and modifiers to newly coined terms that match the changing world. At the top of the heap is the coveted “Word of the Year."

We got curious about what the winner of Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year was from each year - and whether or not we've ever used it. What about you? How many of the Merriam-Webster Words of the Year do you actually use? 

  • 2005: Integrity
    Photo: Carol M. Highsmith / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    177 VOTES

    2005: Integrity

    Merriam-Webster definition: (noun)

    A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; an unimpaired condition; the quality or state of being complete or undivided

  • 2
    176 VOTES

    2013: Science

    Merriam-Webster definition: (noun) 

    Knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method; such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena

  • 2018: Justice
    Photo: St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    153 VOTES

    2018: Justice

    Merriam-Webster definition: (noun) 

    The maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments

  • 4
    120 VOTES

    2014: Culture

    Merriam-Webster definition: (noun) 

    1. The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group
    2. The characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time
  • 5
    154 VOTES

    2003: Democracy

    Merriam-Webster definition: (noun)

    A government by the people; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

  • 6
    149 VOTES

    2020: Pandemic

    Merriam-Webster definition: (adjective)

    1. Occurring over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affecting a significant proportion of the population
    2. Characterized by very widespread growth or extent


    1. An outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population, a pandemic outbreak of a disease
    2. An outbreak or product of sudden rapid spread, growth, or development