"Socialism" and "capitalism" revealed as 2012 "Word of the Year"


(CBS News) Since 2003, Merriam-Webster dictionary has released a "Top Ten Words of the Year" list and 2012 marks the first time that America's oldest dictionary has identified a pairing of two words as the the official "Word of the Year."

Merriam-Webster's editor-at-large, Peter Sokolowski, announced the words of the year Wednesday on "CBS This Morning,."

Sokolowski announced that this year, Merriam-Webster broke with precedent and chose two words together, or as he said "a pairing of a kind." The 2012 words of the year are socialism and capitalism,  words "that trended together, that show that when one was looked up, so was the other," Sokolowski said, explaining the choice.

"Capitalism" and "socialism" were looked up frequently together, particularly "whenever discussions of healthcare were in the use and also of course during the last stages of the election," he added.

The Merriam-Webster website gets up to 100 million pageviews on a monthly basis and they choose the "Word of the Year," by taking a "quantitative measure of how many times certain words are looked up." 

"The words that spike, that show trends, that stick out," Sokolowski said, "are the words that become the word of the year."

Some of the runners-up to socialism and capitalism include "malarkey," which was used by Vice President Joe Biden during a debate, "schadenfreude," and "meme," which all indicate that "politics was on people's mind," Sokolowski said.

He went on to add that choices in recent years -- in "pragmatic" in 2011and "austerity" in 2010 -- reaffirm this trend and he explained, "the culture is thinking about what's in the news and it draws them to the dictionary to begin their research."