Soaring Searches: January’s Trending Lookups

trending, graph, chalkboard

Dictionary lookups often reflect the themes, topics and trends that are dominating the news headlines at any given time. In January 2014, lookups for obscure foods, popular films and tricky government terms ballooned. Here are a few of the most interesting searches that spiked.

Political Jargon
Elastic clause
Searches for this phrase grew by more than 5000 percent from January 2013 to January 2014. More technically known as the necessary and proper clause, the elastic clause is a very basic tenet of the United States Constitution that says, simply, Congress has the power to make laws that are “necessary and proper” for carrying out the powers enumerated by the Constitution. Like many parts of the Constitution, this vague statement has been interpreted by the Supreme Court over the past centuries. This clause was invoked in the great debate of 2012 about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, but apparently it has stayed in the spotlight, at least for some searchers.

Also in politics: compared to January of last year, when President Obama was sworn in for another four years in the Oval Office, the search volume for the word inauguration fell by almost half.

This word spiked in volume by over 1000 percent from last year. In the past couple of years this formerly ignored grain has gained immense popularity as a healthier alternative to the carbohydrate-dense rice and wheat. In 2012, Peru’s Minister οf Agriculture announced that global quinoa exports had grown to over $25 million in 2011. Have you tried this ancient grain?

Inclement Weather Woes
This term surged more than 1500 percent as temperatures dropped and schools closed in the aptly titled Polar Vortex which started around January 2.

Of Pop Cultural Interest
This word increased by more than 1000 percent, as millions of people went to see David O. Russell’s latest film American Hustle. To Scorsese’s chagrin, there was not a comparative increase for the word wolf.

Did you look up any of the above terms in January? What words were you curious about last month? Are there trending terms that you’re surprised didn’t surface in our data?


  1. Espen -  February 24, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    My mom has Quinoa in her pantry, to me it just looks like flax.

  2. wolf tamer and coal miner -  February 22, 2014 - 2:47 am

    My grandmother eats quinoa. Only recently did I find out that it is pronounced “keen-wah” rather than “quin-oh-uh.” I really don’t think it’s that much healthier than rice or wheat. We *need* carbohydrates in our diet – why are we afraid of them?

  3. thejakeshark -  February 20, 2014 - 9:55 am

    Both Quinoa and Christian Bale have been top searches is all, that is their only relationship. It think it is great how dictionary.com forces you to think a little deeper than what is just sitting on the surface. It is like a mini IQ test. Bravo to those who saw the connection.

  4. Janet -  February 20, 2014 - 9:05 am

    Just in case anybody cared why Christian Bale was in the title of this article, it’s because he’s the lead in ‘American Hustle’. You’re welcome, Jonathaaaaan.

  5. Frankie -  February 19, 2014 - 7:02 am

    It’s ok guys everyone relax

  6. Bruce -  February 18, 2014 - 2:36 pm

    So what does Christian Bale have to do with an ancient grain?

  7. TTs -  February 18, 2014 - 12:04 pm

    Ummm quinoa is so delish. I eats it now all the timez.

  8. Jonathaaaaan -  February 18, 2014 - 5:28 am

    I hit Ctrl + F “Christian Bale” and find nothing.

    I hate the teasers on this lousy site. They often have NOTHING to do with what you click on. The writer(s) of these things SUCKS.

  9. Arizona -  February 15, 2014 - 10:07 pm

    Personally, I wonder how people nowadays get by without inferring things. I have grown my vocabulary exponentially by doing so (See what I did there?). But to be perfectly honest, I hate the fact that everyone on this site invariably seek to show just how intelligent they are. Really people, life is not necessarily a competition. You dont have to constantly outdo everyone else with your linguistic competence. Don’t try so damn hard to impress others. I realize you feel the need to sound smart all the time to feel superior, but that doesn’t mean you need to force our inferiority upon us.

  10. Trees -  February 15, 2014 - 10:05 am

    I’d heard this…it bothers me that money wins out over humanitarian planning. If it’s as nutritious as claimed…we should cultivate it, perhaps in place of wheat?

  11. fenikkusu -  February 14, 2014 - 8:03 am

    Quinoa, a native grain of Peru, is a common staple for the indigenous people of Peru. Unfortunately, because so many sites urge people to try this nutritious and tasty grain, the worldwide demand for this product has risen sharply. As a result, the grain has become too expensive for the indigenous population that it once fed, who have had to turn to other food sources. The issue is something that most people don’t know about and the Peruvian govt. is not doing anything positive in terms of helping their own people afford this traditional grain. Please do not urge people to try this. Every time one more person gets “turned on” to this grain, it increases the issue for the poor of Peru, which is very sad indeed. Really it IS the responsibility of the government of Peru to address this issue, but so far they haven’t. Although I too would like to try this grain, I make the conscientious choice to not do so for the good of the Peruvian people. Please be aware of this issue. It’s a lot bigger and nastier than you think, with Peruvian’s health suffering as a result of changing their diet quite radically. Chicken is now a cheaper food source in Peru than their traditional staple grain that was used for a variety of food stuffs. It’s very much like wheat becoming too expensive for Americans. It would change our entire diet! Please give serious consideration to what I’ve said here!

  12. jannsen -  February 12, 2014 - 8:29 pm



Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required):

Related articles

Back to Top