Sunday, December 11, 2005

Top dictionary lookups

Dictionary news:
The 10 most frequently looked up words and their definitions, according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary site:

1. Integrity -- Firm adherence to a code, especially moral or artistic values; incorruptibility.

2. Refugee -- One that flees; especially a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.

3. Contempt -- Willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge or legislative body.

4. Filibuster -- The use of extreme dilatory tactics in an attempt to delay or prevent action, especially in a legislative assembly.

5. Insipid -- Lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate or challenge; dull, flat.

6. Tsunami -- A great sea wave produced especially by submarine earth movement or volcanic eruption.

7. Pandemic -- Occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.

8. Conclave -- A private meeting or secret assembly, especially a meeting of Roman Catholic cardinals secluded continuously while choosing a pope.

9. Levee -- An embankment for preventing flooding; a continuous dike or ridge (as of earth) for confining the irrigation areas of land to be flooded.

10: Inept -- Generally incompetent; bungling.
Curious list. Some of these have obvious explanations. The press switched from the popular term "tidal wave" to "tsunami", so everyone had to look it up.

My hunch is that people had to look up other words because there confused by changing meanings. I always thought that a "filibuster" was just a delay in a vote, caused by a dissenter who wants to give some speeches. In the last couple of years, a lot of people have used it to mean blocking a vote from every taking place.