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RISMEDIA, December 2, 2010—, a leading online and mobile dictionary announced it has chosen “change” for its 2010 Word of the Year. While the site witnessed search spikes around popular events such as “inception” when the blockbuster film hit theaters, “narcissistic” when LeBron James chose his next team and “slick” in reference to the Gulf spill, the consistency that “change” experienced throughout the year set it apart.

Additionally, the company announced that it will allow users to select a People’s Choice Word of the Year, to be announced at the start of the New Year. released the following statement:
In 2010, millions of people from all walks of life visited to discover the correct spelling, pronunciation, or definition of millions of words. Our Word of the Year directly reflects the thoughts of our users—a word that experienced a surge of look-ups in the past 12 months. The word is “change.” It’s not trendy or funny, nor was it coined on Twitter, but we think it tells a revealing story about how our users define 2010.

“Change” of course has two common meanings: 1. “To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.” 2. “Coins of low denomination.”

This isn’t 2008, and “change” is no longer a campaign slogan. Yet the search patterns of users indicate that, in 2010, it is more relevant than ever. Why? The national debate can arguably be summarized by the questions: In the past two years, has there been enough change? Has there been too much? Has the change that has occurred taken us in the right direction?

Meanwhile, many continue to face change in their homes, bank accounts and jobs. Only time will tell if the latest wave of change Americans voted for in the midterm elections will result in a positive or negative outcome.

The coins jangling in your pocket may also explain the desire to ascertain the meaning of “change” better than any specific event. These are tough times, and many are watching the nickels and dimes.

Beyond politics and economics, however, interest in the term may be the most direct way to encapsulate the turbulent decade capped by 2010, which has seen unprecedented globalization, a communication revolution, clashing social values and a jarring reorientation of how we view threats to our freedom.

The runners-up for Word of the Year provide an enhanced picture of the contemplative mood of users:

These terms also surged dramatically in 2010, and leave us wondering what words people were looking up during other periods of serious economic distress, such as the 1930s. If you can’t define “success” by material prosperity, what’s left? We can’t say for certain, but one hopes that increases in “unique,” “benevolent,” and “character” reflect a search for personal growth.

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