What Is The Definition of Austerity?

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Austerity named 2010's most searched word.

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A: Enforced or extreme economy. B: Merriam-Webster’s most searched word in 2010.

The word, which seems to have been in every story about the world’s troubled economies this year, became the reference publisher’s most looked-up word thanks to the policies of euro zone countries following the European Union debt crises, which forced many EU member states to drastically cut government programs and social safety nets.

The spike in searches for the word began in May, when the Greek Parliament attempted to stave off economic collapse by passing harsh austerity measures. Other countries such as Britain, Ireland and Spain soon followed by slashing government spending.

(Read TIME’s story about whether 2011 could be a worse economic year than this one in Europe.)

Here’s the full list of 2010’s most searched words:

  1. austerity
  2. pragmatic
  3. moratorium
  4. socialism
  5. bigot
  6. doppelganger
  7. shellacking
  8. ebullient
  9. dissident
  10. furtive

And for a historical look back, here are the top words from each year since the reference site has been tracking them:

2010: austerity

2009: admonish

2008: bailout

2007: w00t

2006: truthiness

2005: integrity

2004: blog

2003: democracy

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