A new list of the most common words and phrases in the English language in 2013 was overwhelmingly negative.
"404" — as in the error message that appears when a web page can't load — and "toxic politics" both earned top spots, with "surveillance," "drones" and "federal shutdown" also appearing on the list, from Global Language Monitor.
"We are surprised that the year came out with such a negative theme," Paul JJ Payack, the founder of GLM, told Business Insider. "These are troubling times, but there are things like the rise of China, which causes some decline in the U.S. manufacturing system, that language ends up describing as a fail when really it's more of a transformation."
GLM uses an in-house technology to monitor word usage on the Internet, including social media platforms, the blogosphere, and 275,000 print and electronic global media publications. To quality, words, names, and phrases must be found globally, have a minimum of 25,000 citations, and a "breadth" and "depth" of usage, meaning they appear in various forms of media and all over the world.
Of course, words like "the" were used way more frequently than some of the words on these lists, but Payack said GLM's rankings "distilled words that impact language in the news and global discussion."
The Top Words of 2013
404: The near-universal numeric code for failure on the global Internet.
Fail: The single word fail, often used as a complete sentence (Fail!) to signify failure of an effort, project, or endeavor.
Hashtag: The "number sign" and "pound sign" reborn as the all-powerful Twitter hashtag.
@Pontifex: The handle of the ever-more popular Pope Franciscus (Francis).