The Top 4 Words Of 2013


The English language is enormous. Containing an estimated 1,025,109.8 words (projected January 2014), the world’s primary language of business, culture, and international affairs is constantly remaking itself and become more and more complex.

The Global Language Monitor, a group that provides “‘algorithmic services’ to help worldwide customers protect, defend, and nurture their branded products and entities,” released its 14th annual global survey of the English language. Here are the 2013 selections for the top English words:

1. '404'

Smashing Magazine

'404' is the internet's universally accepted code for error. When you search for a page and something goes wrong, usually a 404 page will pop up and signal the error.

2. Fail

Waiter Pop

'404' makes it even more unusual that the second top word in English is fail. English speakers seem to be obsessed with the idea of failure, or at least pointing out when others make mistakes.

3. Hashtag


This one isn't surprising at all. The term "hashtag" has bled into much of English lingo, especially among millennials. Check out this Jimmy Fallon skit on the matter:

4. @pontifex

Riccardo De Luca - AP

Pope Francis, ordained this year, has made a huge effort to open up the Catholic faith to outsiders. He ruffled a lot of feathers and brightened many days when he said the church is obsessed on gays, abortions, and birth control and instead needs to focus on spreading love and helping the marginalized. Started by Pope Benedict XVI, @pontifex is the first ever papal twitter account, and is a good way for the pontiff to connect with young people.

5. Top Phrases and Names

The top three phrases of 2013 were ‘toxic politics,’ ‘federal shutdown,’ and ‘global warming/climate change,’ while ‘Pope Francis’, ‘Obamacare’, and ‘NSA’ rounded out the top three names of the year. 

The GLM’s results are based on actual word usage in the English-speaking world. To qualify for the list, words must have a minimum of 25,000 citations worldwide, and pass a minimum threshold for breadth and usage. The selected frontrunners must also have been used by English speakers across different cultures and geographies. GLM then uses NarrativeTracker, software that analyzes word choice across the internet, blogosphere, and print, electronic, and social media, to help them determine final rankings.