Merriam-Webster chose “justice” as its word of the year for 2018, keeping with the politically themed selections of all major dictionaries this year.

"The concept of justice was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice," Merriam-Webster said in a statement announcing its decision.

The dictionary mentioned some of the most newsworthy events of the year and how justice played a role, from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Gorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant Alyssa Milano says she could 'potentially run' for House in 2024 MORE.


Merriam-Webster’s editor, Peter Sokolowski, told The Associated Press that “justice” was consistently in the top 30 searched words on the site and saw increases during certain events throughout the year.

“These are stories that connect to the culture and to society across races, across classes,” Sokolowski said. “We get this word that filters in.”

He noted that “justice” is not often searched because people don’t know how to spell it, but instead look it up to find its true meaning.

Sokolowski was careful to make clear that the choice was not an attempt to insert opinion into the ongoing politics of the moment.

“We are not editorializing. We looked at our data and we were ourselves surprised by this word,” he said. “This is a word that people have been thinking about for this entire year.”

The legal term "obstruction of justice" saw a 900 percent increase in lookups alone, according to Sokolowski, who also cited spikes in "justice" occurring after Kim Kardashian West went to the White House twice to discuss prison and sentencing reform with President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE. The word's popularity was also fueled by the ongoing special counsel probe into Russian meddling with the 2016 presidential election.

Other words also saw a heavy increase in searches this year, Merriam-Webster said, with “nationalism” seeing an 8,000 percent spike in October after Trump declared himself a nationalist at a rally. Additionally, “lodestar” was one of the most searched words of the year after the unusual term appeared in an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times supposedly penned by a senior Trump administration official.

"Maverick” also spiked following the death of Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Arizona AG Mark Brnovich launches Senate challenge to Mark Kelly Arizona Democrats launch voter outreach effort ahead of key Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.) in August, as did "respect" after signer Aretha Franklin passed away over the summer and “excelsior” following Stan Lee’s death in honor of the comic book writer's battle cry.

Oxford Dictionaries chose “toxic” as its word of the year and went with “misinformation” as its choice.

"Feminism" was Merriam Webster's word of the year in 2017, which was when the #MeToo movement was launched.

--Joe Concha contributed to this report, which was updated at 1:40 p.m.