What is the definition of
We identified 2018’s rising words by ranking Search interest growth for definitions of words (e.g., searches for “blockchain definition,” “define blockchain”).
In 2018, these 10 words led the pack: incel, uwu, mukbang, ibf, zaddy, blockchain, rng, jit, and gekyume.
2018’s top trending words is based on emerging words. With Google Trends data, we examined words with lower Search interest in 2017 that thereafter grew consistently, month-to-month, throughout the course of 2018.
This approach identified new words, (e.g., “juuling”) rather than established words (e.g. “selfie”).
In the past 12 months, each of 2018’s top rising words achieved a level of Search interest to qualify it as a common search, reaching the same frequency ordinary English words.
For context, this methodology would have identified “woke” as the top rising definition in 2016 and “non-binary” in 2017.
“Woke” has gone on to become one of the most popular definitions on Google, with its Search interest peaking in early-2018.
None of 2018’s top rising definitions has achieved the pervasive popularity of “woke.” But comparing helps with context: “mukbang,” for example, is about half as popular as “woke” was at its peak early this year. “Incel” and “uwu” have also surpassed “non-binary, ”one of 2017’s top words.
Now let’s examine the history of 50+ words from 2015 to present day.
To understand how certain terms grew in popularity, we also examined regional trends in the US.
Starting with “blockchain,” explore the state-by-state variations to grasp each word’s geographic etymology.
Where Words Come From
Search interest¹ for top rising definitions by state, 2017 - 2018
tip: mouseover to View region
For instance, “blockchain” was heavily searched for in Washington DC. Mukbang’s etymlogy is Korean, and unsurprisingly searches for its definition began in nearby Hawaii.
What will be the words for 2019? Keep an eye out on Google Trends.
Share this study
What is the Year in Language?
We examined the top related searches for definition, define, and dictionary, such as “selfie definition” or “define selfie.” We excluded proper nouns and acronyms and then ranked words by growth throughout the year.