"Homer", a term for a home run well known to baseball fans, was a five-letter answer in the word game Wordle in May 2022. Wordle dominated the top-ranking Dictionary searches in 2022 as the game became a global phenomenon.
The winning word, "homer", was searched for nearly 75,000 times during the first week of May, to become the Cambridge Dictionary's highest-spiking word of the year. The spikes of five-letter words in 2022 were a departure from the pattern of spikes in Cambridge Dictionary searches in previous years which related to current affairs.
"Homer" spiked because it was unfamiliar to speakers of British English, who flocked to the Cambridge Dictionary to find out what the word meant. The Dictionary website allows users to switch easily between British and American definitions. The American spelling of "humor" caused the second highest spike this year, followed by "caulk", "tacit" and "trope".
Wendalyn Nichols, Cambridge Dictionary Publishing Manager, said: "Wordle's words, and the public's reaction to them on social media, illustrate how English speakers continue to be divided between English language varieties, even when they're playing a globally popular new word game that has brought people together online for friendly competition about language.
"The differences between British and American English are always of interest not just to learners of English but to English speakers globally, and word games are also perennially interesting. We've seen those two phenomena converge in the public conversations about Wordle, and the way five-letter words have simply taken over the lookups on the Cambridge Dictionary website this year."
Find out more about the Cambridge Word of the Year 2022 including insights on British and American English at cambridge.org/woty.
New words in 2022
Hundreds of new words and meanings are added to the Cambridge Dictionary each month, with Cambridge lexicographers deciding whether newly popular words or phrases such as "quiet quitting", "splinternet" or "digital amnesia" should be added to the dictionary. You can read more on the weekly New Words blogs.
With over 2.3 billion page views and over 415 million visitors per year, Cambridge Dictionary is the world's most popular website for learners of English and became the world's largest free online dictionary by page views in July 2022. It draws on the Cambridge English corpus - a database of over 2 billion words - covering both British and American English.
Cambridge Dictionary is free of charge. Its rich dictionary, thesaurus and grammar resources such as quizzes and YouTube videos are all informed by Cambridge's expert research in language.