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Merriam-Webster's 2013 word of the year is ... science, not 'selfie'

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 5:49 AM EST, Wed December 4, 2013
sci-ence: knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation
sci-ence: knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Merriam-Webster picks "science" primarily based on numbers on its website
  • The word had the largest spike in look-ups, it says
  • Oxford's buzzworthy choice of "selfie" was a result of growing digital fame

(CNN) -- Sorry, folks. Merriam-Webster's word of the year is not "selfie." And twerk is nowhere on the list, either.

Unlike the lads and ladies over at Oxford, Merriam-Webster has declared "science" its 2013 word of the year.

Its number 2 word is cognitive.

Oxford's buzzworthy choice of "selfie" last month was a result of the word's growing usage and digital fame. But its U.S. counterpart picked "science" primarily based on numbers on its website.

It looked at the most searched-for words on its online dictionary, Merriam-Webster.com, and also those that showed the biggest increase in the number of look-ups.

The word with the largest spike? Science. A 176% increase in look-ups, to be exact.

"A wide variety of discussions centered on science this year, from climate change to educational policy," the dictionary editors said in a statement.

"We saw heated debates about 'phony' science, or whether science held all the answers. It's a topic that has great significance for us."

Merriam-Webster has a history of not getting too carried away by Internet memes.

Last year, Oxford American Dictionaries US pick for word of the year was "GIF" -- as in a compressed file format for images.

What did Merriam-Webster go with? Socialism and capitalism.

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