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Merriam-Webster's 2018 word of the year is 'justice'

Remember "lodestar?" That word also spiked in search following a New York Times op-ed from an anonymous Trump administration official.
Lady Justice with the scales of justice
Lady Justice with the scales of justiceClassen Rafael / EyeEm / Getty Images

Merriam-Webster's word of the year for 2018 is "justice," the dictionary publisher announced on Monday.

The publisher said in a news release that searches for the word spiked at different points throughout the year for multiple reasons. Merriam-Webster cited news stories about the Department of Justice, conversations about the concept of justice, and the ongoing debate over whether President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice in the federal investigation into Russian election interference as reasons why interest in the word was high in 2018.

"It’s often familiar words for abstract concepts that are among the most looked up words," Emily Brewster, associate editor for Merriam-Webster, said in a statement. "When common words like justice are used in contexts that are very specific, technical, or legal, people look them up in the dictionary for the detail and nuance that a definition can provide. For many reasons and for many meanings, one thing’s for sure: justice has been on the minds of many people in 2018."

Merriam-Webster said searches also spiked significantly for "lodestar, which came under the microscope as internet sleuths tried to discover which Trump administration official authored an anonymous opinion article published in The New York Times in September. Other words with particular resonance in 2018 included "epiphany" and "pansexual."

The publisher also listed a trio of words that spiked following the deaths of prominent Americans — maverick for longtime Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, excelsior for comic book legend Stan Lee and respect for the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin.