Banks and the auto industry are getting them, and Americans could use one of their own, so it seems right that "bailout" is the 2008 Word of the Year at Merriam-Webster's online dictionary.

Bailout, which the site defines as a rescue from financial distress, was chosen because it received the highest number of lookups on the site.

Other top words looked up by users this year also are grim and relate to finances: "turmoil," "trepidation" and "precipice." Words from the presidential race also were in the top 10: "vet" was No. 2, as in vetting or evaluating a vice presidential pick; "maverick" was No. 4, "socialism" No. 3 and "rogue" No. 8.

The publisher usually picks its word of the year by considering the number of lookups and whether certain unusual terms submitted by online users have slipped into everyday discussion, according to an Associated Press story in The Boston Globe.

That's how "W00t" -- spelled with two zeros -- used by online game players to express triumph or happiness, gained the top spot in 2007.

In 2006, the online dictionary users picked "truthiness" as No. 1 after it was coined by Comedy Central political satirist Stephen Colbert.

But this year Merriam-Webster switched its procedure to consider only the volume of lookups of particular words, noting that "bailout" and others were looked up so frequently that their importance couldn't be ignored.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job hunt at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com


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