Merriam-Webster's Word Of The Year: 'Austerity'

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The word austerity has been used quite a bit this year when it comes to debt crises. Dictionary editors at Merriam-Webster say enough online searches for the word made it the word of the year. The words "shellacking" and "furtive" also made the list.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Our last word in business today is Merriam-Webster's word of the year for 2010. It's austerity.

The selection was made based on how many times the word was looked up on the dictionary's online search tool.

Peter Sokolowski is Merriam-Webster's editor at large.

Mr. PETER SOKOLOWSKI (Editor at large, Merriam-Webster): It's not only news driven, but a word that clearly is sort of in the ether. Part of the zeitgeist of this past year is the austerity measures that governments are taking and also that individuals are having to make.

WERTHEIMER: Austerity can be traced to the 14th century and is defined as enforced or extreme economy.

Among the runners-up this year: moratorium and shellacking.

That's the business news on MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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