When the word culture was selected as Merriam-Webster's word of the year for 2014, we at The Hedgehog Review took notice. Culture, after all, is our game, and the fact that more and more people are apparently puzzling over the meaning of the word struck us as a matter of some, well, cultural interest.
Merriam-Webster’s editors base their selection solely on whichever word receives the largest increase of visits to their website during the course of a year. So what was it about culture that occasioned so much lexical befuddlement in 2014? The editors tried to explain:
Culture is a big word at back-to-school time each year, but this year lookups extended beyond the academic calendar. The term conveys a kind of academic attention to systematic behavior and allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group: We speak of a “culture of transparency” or “consumer culture.” Culture can be either very broad (as in “celebrity culture” or “winning culture”) or very specific (as in “test-prep culture” or “marching band culture”).