Drum roll, please! And, now the Word of the Year for 2010: “austerity.”

Merriam-Webster named “austerity” its Word of the Year based on the number of searches the word generated. The president and publisher of the Springfield, Mass.-based dictionary, John Morse, says “austerity” saw more than 250,000 searches on its’ free online tool.

What caused so much interest in the word? Basically, the debt crisis in Greece. As the country’s debit reached crisis stage, government leaders passed a series of strict austerity measures, including tax hikes. They also cut public sector pay.

While the move sparked angry protests, strikes and riots across the country, it also incited a rush to online dictionaries from those searching for the definition of the word “austerity.”

“What we look for … what are the words that have had spikes that strike us very much as an anomaly for their regular behavior,” Morse said. “The word that really qualifies this year for that is ‘austerity’.”

Copyright, 2010. WWJ Newsradio 950, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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