Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year Decided: “Ism”


The Merriam-Webster dictionary has chosen its word of the year for this year. That word is not conventionally a word, but rather, it is a suffix. This suffix that the Merriam-Webster dictionary has reportedly picked as word of the year is “ism.”


What is ism? Communism, capitalism, skepticism, feminism, racism; these are all words that contain the suffix in them, and we hear them used in educational and professional settings. Even some of these are words we use close to every day, subconsciously. We may not have ever been able to realize this, but truly we do use some words like feminism and racism more than others. The reason is that discourses about these exist predominantly more in everyday life rather than only in schools and universities and other such and more professional places.


What does the suffix do when used and what does it really mean? Derived from the Latin, ismus, it means, as Oxford Dictionaries defines it online, “ism” means a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement. Skepticism is an example of the usage of the suffix, “ism,” in  philosophy. Skeptics are people that usually have to “see it to believe it.” It is, as Oxford dictionaries defines this word online, a “skeptical attitude or doubt about the truth of something.”


Why is it so important? Well, personally, I believe that “ism” and words containing it are so prevalent because in this day in age we use such words. In everyday conversation, these words come about because we happen to discuss world issues.


Feminism is apparent this year because of people like Malala Yousafzai and Amy Schumer who both made strides and statements as young women this year. Racism came about because of the hates crimes and race-motivated offenses commited by people this year and the whole Ferguson, Missouri occurrence and its aftermath.



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