As 2018 comes to a close, Merriam-Webster has provided us with the word that they feel like has been spot-on for our year: justice.
In a write-up on their site, the dictionary rep wrote that this concept was at the center of many national debates, such as racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, and economic justice. However, they understand that this is a word and idea that looks different to everyone, hence it’s complexity and the constant tug o’ war in ideas.
“Justice has varied meanings that do a lot of work in the language—meanings that range from the technical and legal to the lofty and the philosophical,” a Merriam-Webster rep wrote.
The post also brings up the Muller investigation being carried out through the “Justice” Department and “justice, as a synonym or title for “judge,” used frequently during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court.” Merriam-Webster has been known for their shady but culturally-relevant digs at politicians, celebrities, and more, especially on their Twitter platform.
The other top ten words of the year include nationalism, pansexual, lodestar, epiphany, feckless, laurel, pissant, respect, maverick, and Excelsior.
“We see spikes in our data that correspond to certain news events and stories reported in media that help us to understand what drove many people to look up justice more frequently this year,” lexicographer Peter Sokolowski said in a video in which he broke down Merriam-Webster’s ranking process.
While justice may have been a word that was used a great deal in mainstream conversation, it’s usage is also a demonstration that talk is pretty cheap. “Justice” doesn’t really mean anything to the 23 reported trans women who were killed this year. It means nothing to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford or any other survivor, as Brett Kavanaugh received his Supreme Court Justice nomination. It means nothing to communities of color who are continually denied justice due to a legal system that has no empathy for them.
People seem to be pretty intrigued by the idea of justice but aren’t really here for delivering it. We’re hoping that maybe next year it’ll change—so 2019, what’s good?