by Dom Glennon
Continuing our look at the major events of 2011 and how they were reflected in searches on Cambridge Dictionaries Online, and the most popular searches of the year…
On October 3rd, Amanda Knox and Rafaele Sollecito were found not guilty of involvement in the murder of Meredith Kerchner, in a case that gripped the attention of the world. Suitably around that time, we see a big increase in searches for appeal and acquit.
Just a few days later, Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs died at the age of 56. As the principal creator of such products as the Apple Mac, iPod and iPhone, Jobs had a huge influence on technology and thus on society itself. Around the time of his death and just after, we can see big increases in searches on visionary, apple and also pancreatic, the form of cancer of which he died.
The year’s two biggest stories, the global economic crisis and uprisings in the Middle East, have, perhaps surprisingly, had less obvious effects on search habits than the incidents previously mentioned. However, austerity, the prescribed remedy for debt-ridden nations, has been a popular search term all year long, with a noticeable spike on June 29th, when the Greek parliament voted on a new austerity bill. And there has been a general increase in interest in bailouts and bailing out, particularly on April 7th when the Portuguese government asked the European Union for financial help.
Sometimes it’s not so easy to trace the source of some ‘search spikes’: eat your heart out, already a surprisingly popular search, had a huge increase on May 11th – can this all be due to an episode of Glee in which a character says the line “Eat your heart out, Kate Middleton!”? And a parliamentary vote in the UK on membership of the European Union was hardly a momentous event, so why it led to a huge surge in searches for three-line whip on October 24th, we can only guess – if anyone can shine any light on the reasons for these searches, please let us know.
And so we come to the rundown of the most popular searches of the year. Most of the previous incidents mentioned were too short-lived to put a word into the year’s top 50, and we can only speculate as to why these words are so popular. Some are classic confusables or spelling errors, for example, affect and effect, through, though and thought, advice and advise; others are just common words, such as the, get and take. And some are just plain mystifying: why do so many people go to an online dictionary to search for the word dictionary – by far the most common search? Although it’s nice to think that people come to us looking for love, or even an experience. So here are the top 50 searches of 2011 in full:
- eat your heart out
On the whole, it was a year in which Cambridge Dictionaries Online went from strength to strength, and we only hope to keep improving the site for our millions of users in 2012. From all of us at Cambridge Dictionaries Online, we’d like to wish you a very happy, prosperous and dare we say more boring 2012!