Happy Friday and welcome to the first day of Autumn for the top half of the globe. I was wondering why this word search happened.
Every 30 seconds of everyday, Merriam-Webster dot com tells us the top ten most popular words being looked up in their online dictionary. Based upon news and world events, it usually makes sense.
This is what they say about this feature, “Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.”
The other day number ten was the word religion. Why now? Do the people doing the search not know the definition of religion? And why might they care?
Just to be sure, I often look up words that I know how to spell, pronounce, and how to define. I do not constitute a trend. I’m not sure how many it takes to merit the trend list. I have looked up the meaning of religion before. In this case, I wanted the exact dictionary definition.
The three definitions of religion listed are:
- 1. A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
- (a/1): the service and worship of God(s) or the supernatural, or (a/2) the commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.
- (b): It is the state of a religious (like a nun in her 20th year).
- A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”
I have no argument with these definitions. I knew them. But why were so many people looking it up? What’s the cause or big deal?
For days, if not weeks, fascism has been in the top three. It was gone when I last checked. It’s been in the top ten for years. I get that.
Do you think someone is thinking, oh now, if it means that, then this is not a religion? They update the list about every 30 seconds, but still—religion? I find it oddly interesting.
A curious synonym for religion from the M-W online thesaurus is cult. I also agree with that connection. I was originally taken aback when I first read all religions are cults. Now I get it. Yes, they are.
You could say “so what?” or be insulted by that synonym. But one must remember, conversely, virtually all cults have a remarkable resemblance to a religion.