"Capitalism" And "Socialism" Are Most Looked-Up Words Of 2012

Tyler Durden's picture

In what is a modestly surprising development, Mirriam-Webster has reported that "socialism" and "capitalism" are the two most looked-up words of 2012, and thus, the words of the year. All we can say is, it is about time people learned the difference. And now that they know how the two differ on paper, they will get a front row seat to experience it in practice too.

For those still confused, here it is:

so·cial·ism, noun, \ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm\


1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods


2a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state


3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done


cap·i·tal·ism, noun, \ˈka-pə-tə-ˌliz-əm, ˈkap-tə-,


an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

More from AP:

Traffic for the unlikely pair on the company's website about doubled this year from the year before as the health care debate heated up and discussion intensified over "American capitalism" versus "European socialism," said the editor at large, Peter Sokolowski.


The choice revealed Wednesday was "kind of a no-brainer," he said. The side-by-side interest among political candidates and around kitchen tables prompted the dictionary folk to settle on two words of the year rather than one for the first time since the accolade began in 2003.


"They're words that sort of encapsulate the zeitgeist. They're words that are in the national conversation," said Sokolowski from company headquarters in Springfield, Mass. "The thing about an election year is it generates a huge amount of very specific interest."


Democracy, globalization, marriage and bigot — all touched by politics — made the Top 10, in no particular order. The latter two were driven in part by the fight for same-sex marriage acceptance.


Last year's word of the year was austerity. Before that, it was pragmatic. Other words in the leading dictionary maker's Top 10 for 2012 were also politically motivated.

"Malarkey" almost stole the show:

Harken back to Oct. 11, when Vice President Joe Biden tangled with Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan in a televised debate focused on foreign policy — terror attacks, defense spending and war, to be specific.


"With all due respect, that's a bunch of MALARKEY," declared Biden during a particularly tough row with Ryan. The mention sent look-ups of malarkey soaring on Merriam-webster.com, Sokolowski said, adding: "Clearly a one-week wonder, but what a week!"


Actually, it was more like what a day. Look-ups of malarkey represented the largest spike of a single word on the website by percentage, at 3,000 percent, in a single 24-hour period this year. The company won't release the number of page views per word but said the site gets about 1.2 billion overall each year.


Malarkey, with the alternative spelling of "y'' at the end, is of unknown origin, but Merriam-Webster surmises it's more Irish-American than Irish, tracing it to newspaper references as far back as 1929.


Beyond "nonsense," malarkey can mean "insincere or pretentious talk or writing designed to impress one and usually to distract attention from ulterior motives or actual conditions," noted Sokolowski.


"That's exactly what Joe Biden was saying. Very precise," especially in conversation with another Irish-American, Sokolowski said. "He chose a word that resonated with the public, I think in part because it really resonated with him. It made perfect sense for this man to use this word in this moment."

But at the end of the day, the two words of distinction rightfully go to those explaining where the world has been, and where it is headed.

And now at least the general population will be somewhat educated on both.

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quasimodo's picture

"Imposter" is # 3?

SeverinSlade's picture

Socialism = no private property

Gimme sum of dat! ...Is what an Obamanoid would say.

EnslavethechildrenforBen's picture

Socialism is when the less fortunate are assisted.

Capitalism is when the less fortunate are raped, pillaged and plundered.

foodstampbarry's picture

Witness the smug, bloated, ugly face of the entitled socialist/communist. What also brings communism/socialism to it’s knees is the inevitable contempt for one’s fellow human beings.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

"What also brings communism/socialism to it’s knees is the inevitable contempt for one’s fellow human beings."

Right, Capitalist never look at people as pure consumers or a source of profit or as cheap labor as mine owners with their machine gun wielding guards did in the past. When everything is view from an economic perspective, everything gets commoditized, no matter what they call the system.

Stackers's picture

Now if we can just get people to start looking up the definition of "Cronyism" we might make some progress

Anusocracy's picture

It's past the time to flush the term capitalism down the memory hole.

The term free market is more useful and less ambiguous.

Nothing To See Here's picture

Oh and what are we under the current system, if not units of consumption force-fed with cheap credit in order to stimulate the banks who must finance their master the State?

Capitalism may look indifferent on paper, but it does force people to respect the lives of others, equal or not.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

I think you missed the point I was making.

midtowng's picture

I beg to differ. Capitalism forces everyone to treat everyone as a stranger that can't be trusted.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Economically everyone IS a stranger who can't be trusted - their needs & methods are secret & harmful at all times unless you force a deal, where one harm leads to a mutual harm & agreement is to do no more harm

GeorgeHayduke's picture

That's an assumption based on your biases. Many countries that are more socialist than the US, like the Scandinavian countries, have quite polite societies where people respect one another, and people outside their boarders. Perhaps the problem of treating people like crap lies outside the purely economic realm of labels like Socialism and Capitalism. Or maybe it's realted to materialism, and I've got mine screw you attitude or even religion as Scandinavia is less religious than the US.

It's easy to speculate and blame anything negative on things you dislike.

Nels's picture

Socialism works passably in monocultural countries, where everybody pretty much believes that having a job and paying taxes is the way to live.  It doesn't work so well in Greece, or in other places that think that living on the dole is a job, and not paying taxes a right.

The Scandinavia you are thinking of isn't the Scandinavia of today's Malmo.  They've imported the same problems the USA has with their own new permanent underclass of welfare recipients.

AnAnonymous's picture

'Americanism' has increased cultural diversity...

Ummm, well, joke.

akak's picture

Invading peaceful and non-threatening neighboring nations, and gunning down Tibetan protestors and Tibetan nuns and monks, is what passes for 'cultural diversity' in the People's Republic of Blobbing-Up and Public Defecation.

Umm, well, not such a joke ... to the remaining Tibetans (for however long their culture manages to survive).

Shell Game's picture

Socialism is when parasites are assisted and crony elite bathe in wealth.

Capitalism is when parasites are shed and TBTF collapse.

Collectivism (i.e. socialism, facism) is when all are raped, pillaged and plundered and a crony elite bathe in wealth.



midtowng's picture

In other words you are saying that socialism/liberals/and everything I hate = bad.

While capitalism/conservatives/and everything I love = good.

Nothing of your favorite ideology could ever deliver something bad, because if it did then you would disown it and claim that it isn't part of your favorite ideology...even if your favorite ideology consistently delivered bad things.

Sockeye's picture

You clearly didn't even read the article.

SheepleLOVEcheddarbaybiscuits's picture

ummmm dont you mean to say socialism is when the less fortunate are raped pillaged pludered?

HungryPorkChop's picture

Mussolini:  "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.

Taterboy's picture

Obambi voters only look up two words: 1) free 2) shit.

F. Bastiat's picture

"Socialism in Our Past and Future", Igor Shafarevich


Required reading, along with "The Socialist Phenomenon".

Stoploss's picture

Now search FACISM.

You know your fucked when a young history teacher doesn't even know what the fuck it is..


Navigator's picture

The word you and your young teacher are looking for is Fascism.

Sudden Debt's picture


DaveyJones's picture

it's easier to just spell thieves

holdingontomypants's picture

Under the definition of Fascism wouldn't countries like Iran be considered that with the additional inclusion added of "religious Fascism"?

Or the standard terminology used "Religious Fanatics".

Woodyg's picture

Exactly!   And how is "Capitalism" at all possible with a Federal Reserve weilding political power?
Its not.

And lets look how 'socialism' and 'capitalism' actually work in reality - both are in fact redistributionist in favor of the Robin Hood for the rich 1% policies.

Anything 'given' to the poor was already stolen from them by fixed markets and governments. 
One only has to look at the percentage of income that goes to each segment of society.  In the usa the vast majority of new income is going to the top 1% - they Captured that new income by gaming the political system using Fake Money to buy real influnce and assets.

Most Americans think 'Socialism' when what we really have is 'Fascism'.


holdingontomypants's picture

Now that you mention History teacher I am going to have to look at my sons 8th grade history book to see if that word is even in there.

Sudden Debt's picture

and BUTFUCKED isn't in the dictionairy AT ALL?!?! GO FIGURE!!!!


Ruffcut's picture

The least looked words are constitutionism and denialism.

Anusocracy's picture

Slavery, which, thanks to the omnipotent State, is more common than ever:

Definition of SLAVERY (Merriam-Webster)
1 : drudgery, toil 2 : submission to a dominating influence 3  a : the state of a person who is a chattel of another

and freedom:

Definition of FREEDOM (M-W)
1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence        

Which, thanks to the omnipotent State, barely exists in the modern world.  

Dr. Engali's picture

The very fact that they have to be looked up speaks to the economic illiteracy of the American public.

Rearranging Deckchairs's picture

If we had a smarter less corrupt media I think the word "FACISM" would have been looked up most. Government for the corporations, by the corporations and of the corporations.



Nothing To See Here's picture

Oh dude, like so many others, your conception of fascism is upside down. Fascism is not corporations controlling government, it's government controlling corporations. Ask former German or Italian industrialists wether they were really controlling their business when they were asked to produce this or that for the State...

Rearranging Deckchairs's picture

Regardless of who is pulling the strings there certainly is a symbiotic relationship to the detriment of the general American public.

Nothing To See Here's picture

But "who" is pulling the strings is of crucial importance if we want to sort this mess out. I don't see a real symbiose here. There is an illusion of private owners working with the State, but all they are is a bunch of government-appointed bureaucrats robbing shareholders in what is still called the private sector. There are no longer real businessmen in large corporations, as the first skill a CEO must possess nowadays is lobbying. All that remains of the entrepreneurship spirit is in the small business sector, and it is dying a slow death under the costs of bureaucracy and regulations designed to protect the State's businesses.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

NO it is not - they pull the strings together and we are the puppets - that alone matters

Colonial Intent's picture

I wanted to give you an up arrow then you mentioned italy

Italy was

"corporations controlling government"

Private Facsism


Germany was

"government controlling corporations"

State Facsism


midtowng's picture

And yet in fascism those coporations made ungodly amounts of money by cooperating with the State. This wouldn't be true in socialism.

machinegear's picture

People might be surprised through their extensive research of the dictionary that they are not synonyms. 

foodstampbarry's picture

What's capitalism? America hasn't been truly capitalist in over a 100 years.

blunderdog's picture

You can't really understand the meaning of either word by looking up the definition. 

Not to mention that we've got an enormous industry which is literally devoted to blurring the meaning of the terms.

In a lot of places in the US, we call clear plastic tape "scotch tape."  The company that managed to dominate that product market is pretty happy with that.

homersimpson's picture

Looks like all the Barack voters are finally educamating themselves.

Tsar Pointless's picture

Fascism. Corporatism. Private-public partnerships. That's what we have, and have had for quite a while.

We haven't had "capitalism" for a long, long, time.

And we've NEVER practiced socialism. Or communism, for that matter. Contrary to what a multitude of ZH-ers believe.

Yep - it's fascism.