Dictionary's Word of the Year Angered Wordle Players

British players weren't familiar with 'homer'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2022 10:35 AM CST
Dictionary's Word of the Year Angered Wordle Players
A Wordle game is seen on a mobile phone.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Cambridge Dictionary's word of the year is one that infuriated British players of Wordle who knew it only as the name of an ancient Greek poet—or Bart Simpson's dad. The dictionary says "homer" saw the biggest search spike of the year, with some 79,000 people looking up the informal American term for a home run during the week of May 5, when it was the Wordle answer, CNN reports. The dictionary says the popularity of Wordle caused five-letter words to dominate search surges this year. The second-highest spike was searches for "humor"—which the Brits spell as "humour"—and "caulk," which the dictionary says is more common in American English than British English.

Other spikes were caused by Wordle answers "that were generally unfamiliar: 'tacit,' 'bayou,' 'trope,' and 'knoll,'" the dictionary said in a press release. "The differences between British and American English are always of interest not just to learners of English but to English speakers globally, and word games are also perennially entertaining," said Wendalyn Nichols, the dictionary's publishing manager. "We've seen those two phenomena converge in the public conversations about Wordle, and the way five-letter words have simply taken over the lookups on the Cambridge Dictionary website."

The dictionary said that before the rise of the word game, spikes in searches were generally caused by current affairs. Words "squeezed out" by searches for five-letter words this year included "oligarch," "vulnerable," and "ableist." On May 5, Wordle players in Britain said they were furious about "homer" ending their winning streaks, Metro reported at the time. "Are you bloody kidding me wordle?!?" one player tweeted. "Most ridiculous 'word' yet." (Read more Wordle stories.)

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