Dictionary.com chooses ‘existential’ as word of the year

  • This Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, photo shows the word "existential" in a dictionary in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Dictionary.com picked “existential” as the word of the year. The choice reflects months of high-stakes threats and crises, real and pondered, across the news, the world and throughout 2019. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane) Jenny Kane

Associated Press
Published: 12/2/2019 5:49:02 PM

Climate change, gun violence, the very nature of democracy and an angsty little movie star called Forky helped propel “existential” to Dictionary.com’s word of the year.

The choice reflects months of high-stakes threats and crises, real and pondered, across the news, the world and throughout 2019.

“In our data, it speaks to this sense of grappling with our survival, both literally and figuratively, that defined so much of the discourse,” said John Kelly, senior research editor.

The word earned top of mind awareness in sustained searches at Dictionary.com in the aftermath of wildfires and Hurricane Dorian, and mass shootings in New Zealand and Texas. It also reared itself in presidential politics and pop culture, including Forky the white plastic spork in Toy Story 4.

The soiled utensil is convinced his destiny is in the trash, until he embraces his purpose as a treasured toy of kindergartener Bonnie.

“Forky underscores how this sense of grappling can also inspire us to ask big questions about who we are, about our purpose,” Kelly told AP.




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