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Texas-based The Global Language Monitor (GLM) reported the results of its annual research of  the most commonly used words, phrases and names across the whole of the web throughout English-speaking countries.

GLM’s NarrativeTracker technology scans blogs, social media and news sites from the leading 275,000 print and electronic worldwide magazines and newspapers.

To make the list, a word had to have been used a minimum of 25,000 times, appeared in various forms of media, and were not specific to a particular country, profession or social group.

In the 14th annual global survey, GLM listed the error code ‘404’, which refers to an online technical error code as the top word. This number appears when a user clicks a link or tries to access a site that is not available. 


The word FAIL came in second place, following by words including SURVEILLANCE, DRONE and DEFICIT. The rest of the top 20 list was dominated by tech-based words including ‘hashtag’ and ‘@pontifex’- the Twitter handle for the Pope.

Other common tech words included ‘Nano’, referring to nanotechnology, or technology that works with items on an atomic and molecular level, and ‘Meme’, the word relating to internet memes such as Grumpy Cat. The term ‘The Cloud’ came in at 18th and refers to the location where online data is stored.

Top Words

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The top phrase of 2013 was ‘Toxic Politics’ – a term used for political campaigns that attempt to ‘scorch and burn’ the opponents.

Other political phrases, including Federal Shutdown and Federal Deficit, also made the top 15 phrases. These popular terms related to the recent shutdown of the federal government in the U.S which happened because Congress failed to pass a budget before the start of the financial year on 1 October. It led to the shutdown of many government and state-funded businesses.

Generally, linguistically and politically, the internet wasn’t a happy place.

The least offensive and scabrous caricature to illustrate the Sochi Olympics name (#15 in the list of 2013 phrases) is the one below.



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