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'Ground zero' tops 2001 word list

Ground Zero
"Ground zero" -- site of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center -- was No. 1 on a list of the year's top 10 words.  

DANVILLE, California (CNN) -- In the waning days of a year torn by terrorism and war, a list of 2001's top 10 words, compiled by, predominantly reflects the aftermath of September 11.

"Our lists attempt to capture the evolution and innovations in word choice and usage," says Paul J.J. Payack, president and CEO of

The Web site surveyed linguistic experts around the world to determine the rankings, according to a statement from the company.

No. 1 on the list is "ground zero," a reference to the site of the terror attack in New York that destroyed the World Trade Center and killed thousands.

"W." or "Dubya," the shorthand version of George W. Bush, is No. 2, as the new president rallied a country following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Top 10 words of 2001: 
1. Ground Zero  
2. W. (Dubya)  
3. Jihad  
4. God  
5. Anthrax  
6. Euro  
7. Wizard  
8. -stan  
9. Oprahization  
10. Foot-and-Mouth  

Third on the list is "jihad," an Arabic word that typically means struggle or inner struggle, but is commonly used by Muslim fundamentalists to mean holy war.

At No. 4 is "God" in various forms, including Allah and Yahweh. Whether in prayers after the terrorist attacks, from politicians or from fundamentalists of various faiths claiming a higher power was paying America back for what it had done to others, God was on the lips of many people in 2001.

"Anthrax" rounds out the top five. Bioterrorism followed on the heels of the worst terrorist attack on American soil as the previously benign U.S. Postal Service became a conduit for terrorism.

No. 6 six is "euro," the soon-to-be-issued common currency for 12 nations in the European Union.

"Wizard" checks in at the seventh spot. Thanks to the release of movies like "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Lord of the Rings," the fantasy world stayed alive and well in the midst of headlines about war and terrorism.

A word suffix, "-stan," occupies the No. 8 position. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and other "stans" located throughout central Asia drew interest as people sought to learn more about the region when the United States brought the war on terrorism to Afghanistan.

No. 9 on the list goes to "Oprahization," a word inspired by the TV talk show "Oprah." The list defines the word as "the litmus test of political utterances: If it doesn't play on Oprah, it doesn't play at all."

The Web site's list wraps with "foot-and-mouth," an ailment that sent millions of livestock, primarily in the United Kingdom, to their deaths earlier this year as governments tried to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease.




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