'Culture' gets nod as Merriam-Webster's 2014 word of the year

Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:12pm EST
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(Reuters) - Whether popular, corporate or entitled, "culture" was named word of the year by U.S. dictionary Merriam-Webster on Monday as a flexible catch-all that can easily identify a subject, idea or issue.

Merriam-Webster defines culture as the beliefs, customs and arts of a "society, group, place or time." The word was buoyed by media coverage about "celebrity culture," "company culture" and "rape culture" dominating media and public conversations, the dictionary publisher said.

It was chosen for its large amount of online lookups and significant increase in lookups from last year, Merriam-Webster said. The publisher said the word usually spikes in fall when students return to school.

Culture beat out nostalgia, insidious and legacy for word of the year, as all received significant media references in relation to politics, film, sports and the deadly Ebola virus outbreak.

British rival, the Oxford English Dictionary, chose "vape" - the act of drawing on an electronic cigarette - as its word of 2014. The dictionary tends to choose neologisms that gain mass usage.

Last year, Merriam-Webster's word of the year was science while socialism and capitalism shared the 2012 honor.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Lisa Shumaker)