Q. I just read that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary selected “isms” as its 2015 Word of the Year. But “ism” is not a word; it is the suffix in hundreds of words. What’s up with that? And does it relate to my business and possible client concerns?
A. Quite possibly it could it be a publicity stunt? But the dictionary’s rationale is that seven words ending in “ism” were among the most-looked-up on its website in 2015. They are: socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism.
Collectively, those words tell us Americans – and our clients – are seriously concerned about politics and current events. We are trying to understand the loaded terms that people use to label the motives of others and to turn complex ideas into sound-bites.
Not surprisingly, the seven “ism” words used most frequently in text published on the Internet include three on the dictionary’s list: capitalism (38 uses per million words), socialism (34) and racism (22), according to MoreWords.com. Topping the list at 107 is criticism, followed by mechanism (78). Rounding out the top seven are organism (26) and nationalism (20).
All of those words are indicative of serious discussions and possible client concerns. As readers of this newsletter are well aware, we can be serious at times, but we tend to favor a certain lightheartedness: the spoonful of silly that makes information easy to swallow. So we’ve decided to cause a schism by responding to the Merriam-Webster list with seven different “isms” selected solely because they make us smile.
A. The belief that pleasure or happiness is the highest good in life.
B. The practice or character trait of deliberately drawing attention to oneself.
C. A philosophy which holds that the universe is chaotic and irrational.
D. The belief that the universe is in some sense divine and should be revered.
E. The political doctrine that all people in a society should have equal rights from birth.
F. The tendency to act without reference to others, particularly in matter of style, fashion or mode of thought.
G. Regard for others, both natural and moral, without regard for oneself.
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