It's not even a word! The top "word" of the year is "404," according to the 14th annual survey of global English, conducted by the Global Language Monitor. "404" is the near-universal numeric code for failure on the global Internet, augmenting its original use as "page not found." The single word "fail," which came in No. 2 is often used together with "404" to signify complete failure of an effort, project, or endeavor.


The top 10 words of 2013:

1. 404
The near-universal numeric code for failure on the global Internet.

2. Fail
The single word fail, often used as a complete sentence (Fail!) to signify failure of an effort, project, or endeavor.

3. Hashtag
The "number sign" and "pound sign" reborn as the all-powerful Twitter hashtag.

4. @Pontifex
The hashtag of the ever-more popular Pope Franciscus (Francis).

5. The Optic
The optic is threatening to overtake the narrative as the narrative overtook rational discourse. Does not bode well for an informed political discussion.

6. Surveillance
The revelation of the unprecedented extent of spying by the National Security Agency into lives of ordinary citizens to the leaders of the closest allies of the United States.

7. Drones
Unmanned aerial vehicles that are piloted remotely or by on-board computers used for killing scores or even hundreds of those considered enemy combatants of the United States.

8. Deficit
Looks like deficit-spending will plague Western democracies for at least the next decade. Note to economists of all stripes: reducing the rate of increase of deficit spending still increases the deficit.

9. Sequestration
Middle English sequestren, from Old French, from Latin sequestrare, to hide away or isolate or to give up for safekeeping.

10. Emancipate
Grows in importance as worldwide more women and children are enslaved in various forms of involuntary servitude.

Previous years' top words:

  • 2012: Apocalypse/Armageddon
  • 2011: Occupy
  • 2010: Spillcam
  • 2009: Twitter
  • 2008: Change
  • 2007: Hybrid
  • 2006: Sustainable
  • 2005: Refugee
  • 2004: Incivility
  • 2003: Embedded
  • 2002: Misunderestimate
  • 2001: Ground Zero
  • 2000: Chad