The next two words on the list, nostalgia and insidious, saw huge increases in use this year, primarily because of their entertainment connection. Nostalgia was used in discussions about the television series Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, and other cultural milestones like the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America. “We saw more than a 100% increase in lookups of nostalgia this year,” says Kory Stamper, an Associate Editor at Merriam-Webster. “It was certainly used in reference to pop culture and television, but it was also used as a way to frame larger political discussions. We spotted examples of nostalgia used in connection with the annexation of Crimea and the defeat of Eric Cantor. People often think of nostalgia as a return to ‘good old days,’ so these uses that go beyond the personal may have surprised some readers and sent them to the dictionary.”
Lookups for feminism were strong throughout the year, as the word was used in many highly publicized comments–from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision to the Gamergate controversy. One big spike came after TIME announced its 100 Most Influential People–a list including Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, and Pharrell Williams. TIME’s claim that 2014 was the “year of pop feminism” sent many people to the dictionary.
In 2014, more than ever (and for reasons other than Merriam-Webster’s), I seemed to obsess over the idea of nostalgia. It coursed through many of my pieces including Hail Mario, Golden Age Thinking, and Iterative vs. Redesigned Experiences. It also seemed to be a common theme strewn out through several of Nintendo’s recent first-party titles: The Excitebike Arena in Mario Kart 8, NES Remix, and the plethora of new characters and legacy nods in Super Smash Bros. to name a few.
On the topic of feminism, it is very interesting to see just how large the Gamergate conversation has become. 2014 felt like a truly remarkable year for the feminist movement and this list offers a small shred of proof.