TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: 'Blog' Tops U.S. Dictionary's Words of the Year

'Blog' Tops U.S. Dictionary's Words of the Year

Lisa Minter (
Wed, 1 Dec 2004 11:45:39 EST

BOSTON (Reuters) - A four-letter term that came to symbolize the
difference between old and new media during this year's presidential
campaign tops U.S. dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster's list of the
10 words of the year.

Merriam-Webster Inc. said on Tuesday that blog, defined as "a Web site
that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments
and often hyperlinks," was one of the most looked-up words on its
Internet sites this year.

Eight entries on the publisher's top-10 list related to major news
events, from the presidential election -- represented by words such as
incumbent and partisan -- to natural phenomena such as hurricane and

Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster compiles the list
each year by taking the most researched words on its Web sites and
then excluding perennials such as affect/effect and profanity.

The company said most online dictionary queries were for uncommon
terms, but people also turned to its Web sites for words in news

"That is what occurred in this year's election cycle ... with
voluminous hits for words like 'incumbent,' 'electoral,' 'partisan,'
and, of course, our number one Word of the Year, 'blog,' "
Merriam-Webster President and Publisher John Morse said in a

Americans called up blogs in droves for information and laughs ahead
of the Nov. 2 presidential election.

Freed from the constraints that govern traditional print and broadcast
news organizations, blogs spread gossip while also serving as an
outlet for people increasingly disenchanted with mainstream media.


It was mainly on blogs that readers first encountered speculation that
President Bush wore a listening device during his first debate against
Democrat John Kerry. The White House, forced to respond, called it a
laughable, left-wing conspiracy theory.

Bloggers also were among the first to cast doubt on a CBS television
news report that challenged Bush's military service.

CBS later admitted it had been duped into using questionable documents
for the report. Last week CBS anchor Dan Rather said he would step
down in March, although the network said the move was unconnected to
the scandal.

A Merriam-Webster spokesman said it was not possible to say how many
times blog had been looked up on its Web sites but that from July
onward, the word received tens of thousands of hits per month.

Blog will be a new entry in the 2005 version of the Merriam-Webster
Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. The complete list of words of
the year is available at

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