LEANNE ITALIE AP Entertainment Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — A common but increasingly mighty and very busy little word, “they,” has an accolade all its own.
The language mavens at Merriam-Webster have declared the personal pronoun their word of the year based on a 313 percent increase in look-ups on the company's search site, Merriam-Webster.com, this year when compared with 2018.
“I have to say it's surprising to me,” said Peter Sokolowski, a lexicographer and Merriam-Webster's editor at large, ahead of Tuesday's announcement. “It's a word we all know and love. So many people were talking about this word.”
And the Merriam-Webster runners-up?
They include “quid pro quo,” “impeach” and "crawdad,” the latter a word in the title of Delia Evans best-selling novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing.” The Top 10 also included “egregious,” “clemency" and “the,” a shocker of a look-up spike when The Ohio State University attempted to patent the word to protect its turf. It failed.
Also in the mix: “snitty,” which emerged on the lips of Attorney General William Barr in reference to a letter by Robert Mueller about a summary Barr wrote of the Mueller report.
We have Washington Post columnist George Will to thank for “tergiversation.” The word, meaning an evasion or a desertion, was Merriam-Webster's top look-up on Jan. 24 after Will used it in a column in reference to Lindsey Graham.
The words “camp” and “exculcate” rounded out the Top 10 list.