Surreal seems to be, for 2016, such a word.
Announcing "surreal" as the 2016 word of the year, Kory Stamper, associate editor at Merriam-Webster, said: "Events often have specific words tied to them, and it's always fascinating to see which of those words people latch on to".
"Surreal is Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year because it was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than it was in previous years, and because there were multiple occasions on which this word was the one clearly driving people to their dictionary", Merriam-Webster said in their Word of the Year announcement. This year, other spikes corresponded to a variety of events, from to Prince's death, to the Pulse shooting in Orlando; from the Brexit vote to commentary about the presidential debates.
But the US presidential election was only the third event that spiked Merriam-Webster's search rate for the word.
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Although surreal saw the most dictionary searches in 2016, there were a few close contenders. The publisher said it ranks the word based off two criteria: a significant year-over-year increase in lookups online, and a high volume of lookups. Then it spiked again in July when it was used in the descriptions of the coup attempt in Turkey and in the coverage regarding the Nice attack.
But the largest spike was after the US election in November. Merriam-Webster weeds out perennials, looking at how many times people looked up the interest-spiking words in 2016 versus 2015. The event causing the largest single spike in interest in the word was Donald Trump's victory in the USA presidential election.
Other words that rounded out the dictionary company's word-of-the-year list were "bigly", a term people thought Trump was using during speeches and interviews - he was really saying "big league" - and "deplorable", which was made famous when Clinton used it to refer to Trump's supporters. But American voters deciding to put a billionaire reality television star in the White House led to the largest spike of the year, according to Merriam-Webster.