Dictionary.com has chosen “Existential” as the 2019 Word of the Year, beating out “polar vortex,” “stochastic terrorism” and “exonerate.”
The word was chosen because “It captures a sense of grappling with the survival — literally and figuratively — of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life,” but also “inspires us to ask big questions about who we are and what our purpose is in the face of our various challenges — and it reminds us that we can make choices about our lives in how we answer those questions.”
Dictionary.com says most searches of the word were in conjunction with things like climate change, gun violence and democratic institutions. It says Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders used the word a lot this year when he repeatedly referred to climate change as an “existential crisis.” Joe Biden also used it a lot in describing President Trump as “an existential threat to America.”
- The word definitely has more negative connotations.
- Bernie Sanders caused searches of the word to spike 179%.
- It’s surprising that neither “obstruction” nor “collusion” were finalists.