The top 10 words of 2004

Merriam-Webster has compiled a list of the most researched words on its Web sites, and this is the result:
1. blog
2. incumbent
3. electoral
4. insurgent
5. hurricane
6. cicada
7. peloton
8. partisan
9. sovereignty
10. defenestration
Blog will be a new entry in the 2005 version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, with the following definition:

Blog noun

[short for Weblog] (1999) : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

(Originally spotted on


By | 2016-10-18T15:51:36+00:00 December 2nd, 2004|Language|6 Comments

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About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Rethabile Masilo December 2, 2004 at 10:29 pm

    That word in the number one spot was, indeed, unavoidable in 2004. It deserves it. I can’t understand why people would flock to look up a word like cicada, however.

  2. Neij December 3, 2004 at 1:25 am

    Presumably the cicada searches were something to do with this:
    Most of them seem fairly clear as emerging from US political debate and/or current affairs reports in 2004. Not sure about peloton, though…

  3. céline December 3, 2004 at 8:12 am

    Rethabile: I actually researched cicada earlier this year (not in the Merriam-Webster though)! I had heard a story on the news about cicadas that stay 17 years underground, then wake up and cause havoc and I wanted to check that I had heard right (17 years???).
    Neij: I also wondered about peloton… Are we talking about sports or war here?

  4. Neij December 3, 2004 at 1:01 pm

    Hmm, I thought I knew peloton with reference to the Tour de France (presumably the main body or pack of cyclists) but I didn’t know any military connection. Trusty old Collins Robert tells me it’s a platoon.
    But I’ve never heard it in any connection in ENGLISH!

  5. Nigel Morphine December 3, 2004 at 10:05 pm

    I assure you that the cicadas were very real. I live at the epicenter of where Brood X emerged, and they were everywhere, making a racket & clinging onto everything. I don’t mind insects really, but it was quite amusing to watch squeamish people slinking around outdoors, waving their arms about as the clumsy insects (notoriously bad fliers) flew into their hair.

  6. CRConrad December 22, 2004 at 12:53 pm

    FWIW, “peloton” means “fearless” in Finnish.
    Not that I think that’s what people were searching for, of course…
    Christian R. Conrad
    Helsinki, Finland

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