Merriam-Webster’s 2015 word of the year turns out to not actually be a word at all. Rather, it’s three letters that appear at the end of a word. Editors found that the suffix -ism appeared at the end of words their users were frequently looking up.
The top-searched word was socialism—no doubt boosted by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and the general public’s confusion over what Democratic Socialism is. People also frequently looked up the word terrorism, which spiked after tragedies like those in Paris, Beirut and San Bernardino. The word fascism spiked after Donald Trump’s call to ban all muslims from entering the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” After police violence stories and the Charleston shooting, people frequently searched the word racism. And, propelled by people like Hillary Clinton and Jennifer Lawrence—who gained some recognition after writing an open letter to Hollywood regarding the gender pay gap—the word feminism was also frequently searched.
The suffix may only be three letters long, but it capped the end of several rather weighty words that sum up this year.