January 18, 2022

“Paranoid” is the 2016 Cambridge Dictionary Word of the Year

From Cambridge U. Press: 

The Cambridge Dictionary team have chosen paranoid as their Word of the Year for 2016. Researchers examined the data from the hundreds of millions of searches on dictionary.cambridge.org to see which words sparked the most interest in 2016, and found that paranoid stood out as the clear frontrunner.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the Cambridge Dictionary team saw such a large spike in searches for paranoid after what has been a truly eventful, and indeed worrying, year. In June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, causing great uncertainty in the UK and across Europe (even now, the only certainty we have is that Brexit means Brexit); then, in November, after a brutal and divisive campaign, the people of the United States elected businessman Donald Trump as president ahead of politician Hillary Clinton, in one of the most extraordinary political stories of modern times. Add to this the ongoing backdrop of a bloody civil war in Syria, several terrorist attacks around the world and a number of shock celebrity deaths.


Paranoid wasn’t the only instance where world events have influenced search spikes, with the data highlighting large increases in words along a similar theme: anxiety and chaos; increases in prejudice, bigotry and bullying; and people feeling nostalgic for what are perceived as simpler, more settled and happier times.

Read the Complete Announcement

Direct to Cambridge Dictionary Definition: Paranoid

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.