'Science' Faces Off With 'Selfie' as Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster Declares 'Science' to be the word of the year.

This photo shows the word "science" on a page of a Merriam-Webster dictionary, in New York.
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Though they both start with the same letter, that's about all Merriam-Webster's word of the year has in common with its counterpart from Oxford University Press. The renowned British publishing company and the notable American dictionary publisher have divergent views on not only the word of the year, but the way in which it should be determined.

Oxford declared "selfie" the word of 2013 in November. On Tuesday Merriam-Webster announced "science" to be its word of the year.

[READ: Oxford Dictionary Names "Selfie" as Word of the Year]

Merriam-Webster determined its word primarily based on a 176 percent increase for look–ups on its website since 2012. In comparison, Oxford determined its word of the year based on the overall tracking of the usage of words.

"The more we thought about it, the righter it seemed in that it does lurk behind a lot of big stories that we as a society are grappling with, whether it's climate change or environmental regulation or what's in our textbooks," John Morse, president of Merriam-Webster, told the Associated Press.

Morse said that Merriam-Webster's word of the year was evident of the underlying tone of scientific discovery that has permeated society.

[ALSO: Congressman Steve King Strives to Make English the Official Language of U.S.]

Morse also contributed the uptick of the word "science" to Malcolm Gladwell's October release of the book "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants."

Gladwell, who has a reputation of mainstreaming scientific thought, writes about the challenges that nature imposes. Some criticize Gladwell's book as a misrepresentation of science, Time reports.

Yet many believe this mainstreaming of information and technology is making science applicable to everyone.

"We bear witness to the astonishing capacities for scientific knowledge to aid us in transcending our seeming boundaries, to realize they're not really boundaries," National Geographic's "Brain Games" host Jason Silva told the Associated Press of this new age of science. "It's a great thing. Let's celebrate that."

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