They've been tracking your word lookups for nearly two decades. And the results are striking
There was a time when our relationship with the dictionary was strictly one-way. It had the information we needed, and we took from it, giving nothing in return.
Things have changed. Now, not only can online dictionaries see what we are looking up, they can see why, and in the process, learn a lot about us. As Jennifer Howard explained in the Chronicle of Higher Education, "dictionaries have become a two-way mirror, a record not just of words' meanings but of what we want to know. Digital dictionaries read us."
Peter Sokolowksi, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, says that after his online dictionary began to track searches in 1996, "the first thing we noticed were these enormous spikes of interest around a big news event." During Princess Diana's funeral they saw lookups for "paparazzi" and "cortege." After Michael Jackson died they saw a spike for "emaciated."
Via Charles Tiayon