The usual mix of old friends on the list, seasonal curiosity, and news-driven vocabulary gives us the top twenty most looked-up words for February. This month, correspondents had very specific questions about the development and usage of words: What's the difference between forever and for ever? Lookups of quorum soared in the Online Dictionary after Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin left the state in an attempt to prevent the legislature from voting on the controversial collective bargaining bill.
Recent technology inspires coinages – recent weather patterns and business practices that reflect the current economy do also. If you've noticed a new word or a new sense of a word and would like to add it to the Open Dictionary, check out the guidelines for entries. The Supreme Court of the United States followed precedent when that judicial body again turned to Webster's Third New International (the Unabridged) to parse the term personal as part of the FCC v AT&T decision.
Disposition began attracting lookups more than a year ago, even before the American version of the song "Sweet Disposition" by the Australian group The Temper Trap hit the airwaves.
Perhaps music lovers puzzle over the word's meaning because disposition appears only in the song's title, not its lyrics. Both ancient Rome and imperial China were home to functioning bureaucracies centuries before the word bureaucracy appeared in English in the early 19th century.
Become a fan of Merriam-Webster's official Facebook page to receive daily updates with our Word of the Day, Quick Quizzes, Trend Watch, and more. Pragmatic is no stranger to the list, but the word increasingly seems like a level-headed admonishment amidst political debates about budgets at every level of government these days.

Critics didn't always admire him, but readers loved him: Spillane sold 200 million books, many featuring tough guy private eye Mike Hammer, who loved, killed, and dispensed justice according to his own rules.
In Middle English, quorum was used to refer to a select group of justices of the peace who were required to be present at a session in order to constitute a lawful deciding body. But sometimes fans of older music (think of The Monkees' hit version of Neil Diamond's I'm a Believer) also deserve some credit for influencing terms born in popular culture. Disposition places on the Top 100 occasionally; after a remix of the song was nominated for a Grammy this year (and the original was featured in an Oscar night television commercial), disposition rose to the #4 spot for February's list. Still, the notion of a "sweet disposition" ("characteristic mood or attitude") permeates the upbeat tune. Bureaucracy entered English from French, where bureaucratie (from bureau meaning "office" plus -cratie meaning "rule of") has meant "rule of office" since shortly before the French Revolution. You can also interact with other word fanatics and learn new and exciting word facts you might never know otherwise. Spillane's writing style was vivid and lively; of the 11 Mickey Spillane quotations illustrating words in context in the Unabridged, seven words were verbs and three were slang nouns. Probably because of the many debates about budgets and cutbacks now underway at every level of government, business, and organization.

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