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A suffix tops the word list for 2015

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Merriam-Webster Inc., America's leading dictionary publisher, has announced its top Words of the Year for 2015. This year's data-driven list is determined by two simple criteria: the words must show a high volume of lookups and a significant year-over-year increase in lookups at Merriam-Webster.com. The results shed light on topics and ideas that sparked the nation's interest in 2015.

This year, for the first time, Merriam-Websterhas named a suffix,-ism, as its 2015 Word of the Year, reflecting the fact that many of Merriam-Webster'shighest ranking words this year had one thing in common; they ended in-ism. 

The list of high-ranking -isms begins with the most looked-up word of the year,socialism, but also includesfascism, terrorism, racism, feminism, communism, andcapitalism.

"Socialismhas been near the top of our online dictionary lookup list for several years," explainsPeter Sokolowski, Editor-at-Large at Merriam-Webster. "However, this year lookups moved up even further, beginning with the July campaign events forBernie Sanders, remaining high throughout the following months, and spiking again after the first Democratic debate in October."

Terrorismwas frequently looked up during the past year, particularly following attacks inParis, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino. Responses to those attacks, includingDonald Trump'scomments about banning Muslims from enteringthe United States, also drove lookups offascism.

Police violence, theSouth Carolinachurch shooting, and theUniversity of Missouriprotests were among the reasons that lookups ofracismincreased this year.

Amy Schumer'ssuccess,Hillary Clinton'scandidacy, and coverage ofCaitlyn Jenner'sstory contributed to spikes for the wordfeminism.

Non-ismwords looked up in large numbers in 2015 includemarriage, which peaked when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could marry nationwide, andminion,because of the hit movieThe Minions.

"These words reveal our curiosity and our engagement; we're looking at the news through the prism of vocabulary," added Sokolowski. "A definition can be the beginning of reflection. This year, we've certainly had a lot on our minds."

For more background on Merriam-Webster'sWords of the Year, see:the complete list, slideshow, andvideo

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