The Sideshow

‘Privacy’ named Dictionary.com's 2013 word of the year

The Sideshow

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Revelations over the NSA's alleged surveillance program led to "privacy" becoming the word of the year (AP)

"Cronut," you just can’t win them all. On Wednesday, Dictionary.com announced that it had chosen “privacy” as its word of the year, beating out other finalists including the croissant-doughnut hybrid that became a national phenomenon in 2013.

Other finalists included “sequester,” “shutdown,” “share” and newly coined words such as “Obamacare” and “3D printing.”

The dictionary website says it chose “privacy” over the other finalists in large part because of the debate over government surveillance programs led by groups such as the NSA that recently came under heightened scrutiny.

Dictionary.com defines "privacy" as "the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one's private life and affairs."

The debate over privacy has become so intense that Dictionary.com CEO Michele Turner said its exact definition might need to be tweaked to reflect the rapid expansion of what exactly constitutes privacy.

“Perhaps the current definition may need to be revised to address our freedom from intrusion by anyone, from governments to corporations to individuals,” Turner told Yahoo News. “As we’ve considered how to update the definition of privacy, it became clear that it stands as the single word that had the biggest impact in 2013.”

Turner notes that the very root of the word stems from ancient Rome when “privatus” and “publicus” were juxtaposed to define items and concepts that belonged to either the individual or the state.

Dictionary.com pointed to a number of privacy-related events in 2013 that led to its decision, including Edward Snowden’s leaking of classified NSA data, complaints over TSA security procedures and the advent of Google Glass.

“The immense popularity of messaging apps like SnapChat that trumpet the perceived privacy of their products demonstrates that privacy concerns are growing, particularly among young people who aren't using Facebook like older cohorts,” Turner told Yahoo. “Privacy has been THE event, idea, and concern of 2013. From the beginning of the year and the announcement that TSA was scrapping their imaging technology in January to the court ruling this Monday that Prism is probably unconstitutional.”

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