The Cambridge Dictionary has unveiled its word of the year for 2022, with editors applauding disgruntled Wordle players whose winning streak was ended by an unfamiliar American English term.
The term “home run” (not to be mistaken for the author of The Simpsons or The Iliad) is an informal American English word for a baseball home run – nearly 75,000 searches in the first week of May Answers in the five-letter word puzzle online.
It became the most-occurring word in a dictionary this year, with five-letter Wordle answers dominating searches this year as the game became a phenomenon, the editors said.
It mostly stumped non-US players, with 95% of searches coming from outside North America, as frustrated Wordle players turned to dictionaries to learn what it meant.
British English speakers took to social media to complain about the choice of “Homer” as a Wordle answer on May 5, using words like “anger” and “rage”.
The American spelling of “humor” caused the second highest peak in 2022.
Likewise, the third most searched term is “caulk,” a word more commonly used in American English than British English to mean filling the space around the edge of an object, such as a bathtub or window frame, with a special substance.
Americans in turn complained about “bloke,” which appeared on Wordle on July 25.
Wendalyn Nichols, publishing manager at Cambridge Dictionaries, said: “Word’s words and the public’s reaction to them illustrate how English speakers continue to be divided about the differences between English variants, even as they play a new word game that is popular around the world to bring people together Online, engage in friendly competition over languages.
“The differences between British and American English are of interest not only to English learners but to English speakers across the globe, and wordplay is always interesting.
“We’ve seen both phenomena converge in the public conversation about Wordle, and five-letter words simply take over lookups on the Cambridge Dictionary website.”
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Searches for Wordle’s five-letter words on the Cambridge Dictionary website also outpaced other high-interest words related to current events.
The word “oligarch” may have been inspired by news of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and the adjective “vulnerable” in relation to the cost of living crisis.
New words have been added to the Cambridge dictionary this year, such as “shrinkflation” – a term in which the price of a product remains the same but its size shrinks.