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2013 top words include 'drones,' 'surveillance,' 'NSA,' 'fail,' '404'

If 1.83 billion English-speaking people online most frequently used the "word" 404, then that's a lot of fail, which might be why No. 1 is "404" and No. 2 is "fail" on the 2013 list of top words.

If 1.83 billion English-speaking people online most frequently used the "word" 404, then that's a lot of fail. And that might be why No. 1 is "404" and No. 2 is "Fail" in the list of top words for 2013. After scouring the Internet to determine the most frequently used English words, phrases and names, Global Language Monitor ranked and released its list. To qualify for GLM's Word of the Year ranking lists, the words, names, and phrases had to be used in various forms of media worldwide with a minimum of 25,000 citations.

Within the top 20 words, seven are directly related to technology or to the Internet. GLM commented on each word.

1. 404 - "The near-universal numeric code for failure on the global Internet." Apparently it doesn't matter that 404 is not actually a word.

2. Fail - "The single word fail, often used as a complete sentence (Fail!) to signify failure of an effort, project, or endeavor."

3. Hashtag - "The 'number sign" and 'pound sign' reborn as the all-powerful Twitter hashtag." If you watch any TV at all, then it you've noticed the trend to use "hashtag" in commercials. But don't be confused because top television words of the year are on a completely different list. (No/ 1 was 'Twerk', which is related to twerking at No. 13 on this list, with TV top words 'Facial Profiling' at No. 3.)

6. Surveillance - "The revelation of the unprecedented extent of spying by the NSA into lives of ordinary citizens to the leaders of the closest allies of the US." When you consider how NSA surveillance affects our constitutional rights, then that brings us back to No. 2.

7. Drones - "Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that are piloted remotely or by on-board computers used for killing scores or even hundreds of those considered enemy combatants of the US." Ironically, GLM's comments did not mention surveillance when that immediately springs to mind for drones.

12. Nano - "Nano-technology, nano-machines, nano-weapons, some too horrible to contemplate (see Bill Joy's self-replicating nanobots resulting in a world of 'grey goo'.)"

16. Meme - "Internet Memes can best be conceived as Internet thoughts or ideas that are propagated through all varieties of electronic communications."

18. The Cloud - "Where your data lands after you press <enter> (not to be mistaken for a play by Aristophanes)." It is the only two-word combo in the top 20 word list and could be directly related to surveillance at No. 6, which when you add surveillance to the cloud it again leads us to privacy fail.

Filling in the rest of the top 20 are: No. 4 @Pontifex; No. 5 The Optic; No. 8 Deficit; No. 9 Sequestration; No. 10 Emancipate; No. 11 Filibuster; No. 13 Twerking - 'A dance mimicking various sexual postures and acts made famous by Miley Cyrus'; No. 14 Deadlock; No.15 Franken; No. 17 Stalemate; No. 19 Phony; No. 20 Comet.

Top names of 2013

Top names of 2013 according to usage rank by the English-speaking Internet: Pope Francis, ObamaCare, with NSA at No. 3, followed by Ed Snowden at No. 4.

Top Phrases of 2013

"Toxic Politics" topped the 2013 ranking for phrases, followed by No. 2 Federal Shutdown, and No. 3 Global Warming/Climate Change. Boston Strong came in at No. 6, with Marathon Bombing placing at No. 7. Tech didn't creep into the list of top 15 phrases until Big Data at No. 14. However, Big Data was No. 1 on the 2013′s Tech List, followed by the high-tech buzzwords Dark Data at No. 2, The Cloud at No. 3, and No. 4 Yottabytes.

The rest of the top phrases of 2013 are as follows: No. 4 Federal Deficit; No. 5 Tread Lightly; No. 8 Chemical Weapons; No. 9 All Time High; No. 10 Rogue Nukes -- followed by the comment, "Sources state that Iran can now assemble a bomb in two weeks. This is going from hypothetical to reality. (If true, International Inspection Effort: Fail.);" No. 11 Near-Earth Asteroid; No. 12 Arab Spring; No. 13 Solar Max; No. 15 Ethical/Sustainable Fashion.

Intersection of top terms and government social media monitoring

Last but not least, for the purpose of social media monitoring, the unblinking eye of Homeland Security allegedly takes note of "hot" keywords; of all those top words and phrases for 2013, "Cloud" is on the HAZMAT & Nuclear list, which also has "leak" and "chemical"; "Chemical weapon" is on the terrorism list of monitored terms; and "bomb" - potentially as in the phrase Marathon Bombing - is included on numerous lists that may have changed in the last couple years.

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