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‘Existential’ crowned word of the year by Dictionary.com

This year has left people questioning. . . everything

The word "existential" in a dictionary in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Dictionary.com picked “existential” as the word of the year. The choice reflects months of high-stakes threats and crises, real and pondered, across the news, the world and throughout 2019 (Jenny Kane/AP)

2019 has been quite the year for record setting.

With the hottest month ever recorded, followed by winter temperatures that made history in Michigan just four months later, add to this a presidential race that’s become a global spectacle, oh and mass shooting, after shooting, after shooting (there have been over 300, I won’t list them all).

Dictionary.com has recognized that all of this gloom and doom has left people questioning life and its greater meaning by choosing “existential” as its word of the year.

The website defines the word as: “Of or relating to existence.”

“Does climate change pose as an existential threat to humanity?” is the example that follows the definition on the website.

Search spikes for “existential” occurred after Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders and climate activist Greta Thunberg deemed climate change an “existential” crisis, said John Kelly, senior research editor for Dictionary.com.

“In our data, it speaks to this sense of grappling with our survival, both literally and figuratively, that defined so much of the discourse,” Kelly said.

Searches for “existential” also spiked when former Vice President, and Democratic presidential contender, Joe Biden said President Donald Trump was an “existential threat” to decency, Kelly said.

Wildfires ravaging California, protests in Kashmir, Venezuela and Hong Kong, a fire destroying the spire on Notre Dame have all sparked discussions on existentialism.

“We started to see existential in the dialogue beginning in January and all the way through the year,” said Jennifer Steeves-Kiss, Dictionary.com’s CEO. “This is a consistent theme that we saw in our data, but it also was leveraged across many different important questions of our time.”

But it isn’t all miserable, there have been good things along the way, too.

The U.S. women’s soccer team won its fourth World Cup, cigarette smoking among adults is at its lowest, and a puppy was found with a tail on its forehead. So things are already looking better for 2020.