by Alastair Horne
Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them to their dictionaries for explanation.
Some of the most remarkable rises in search frequency occur when a popular news story involves obscure words or phrases – items that are unlikely to have featured in a student’s vocabulary notebook. Sometimes these words are obscure because they are technical: September’s vote on Scottish independence saw a massive rise in searches for the words ‘devolution’ and ‘referendum’, as our users tried to understand precisely what the vote involved.
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