Top Words for the First 15 Years of the 21st Century & What They Portend










 Recently, The Global Language Monitor (GLM) announced that Truth is the Word of the Year for 2017.


Austin, Texas, March 3, 2017 (Update) — One hundred years ago, in the year 1915 to be precise, a number of historical trends had already been set in motion that would come to dominate the rest of the century, for better or for ill.   The Global Language Monitor, which tracks global trends through the Big Data-based analysis of Global English, has recently completed a three-year study to better ascertain what trends are we now tracking that will portend future events.

“The first fifteen years of the 20th c. set the trajectory for the remainder of the century — and beyond.”  said Paul JJ Payack, president and Chief Word Analyst, the Global Language Monitor.  “This included the seeds of World War, Bolshevism, Communism, German Nationalism, the carving up of the Middle East without regard to societal structures, total warfare, the introduction of weapons of mass destruction, flight, electrification of rural areas, the internal combustion engine, the dependence on hydrocarbon for fuel, Einstein’s first papers on relativity, the arms race, the explosive growth of cities, and so much more.

If the same can be said for the 21st century at the 15-year mark, what trends can we see that will be likely shape the rest of the 21st century, into the 22nd — and possibly beyond.”

The results for the First 15 Years of 21st Century & the Trends They Portend follow in the format of Rank, Word or Phrase, Comment, and Trend.They Portend

Top Words for the First 15 Years of 21st Century & the Trends They Portend

Rank Word or Phrase Comment 21st Century Trend
1 Web/Internet (2000) Some argue the most momentous change to human society since the Renaissance — also reflected in language usage Some argue the most momentous change to human society since the Renaissance. Web 2.0 was the tipping point where the Internet became embedded into everyday life.
2 China (2009) 2015 is the year that China surpasses the US as the Earth’s economic engine in terms of PPE.  If China holds the title for as long as the US, it will be the year 2139 before it turns over the reigns. The Rise of China will dominate 21st century geopolitical affairs like US in the 20th
3 Selfie (2013) Evidently an ego-manical madness gripped the world in 2013-14. The more people populate the planet, the greater the focus on the individual.
4 404 (2013) The near-universal numeric code for failure on the global Internet. 404 will not merely signify the loss of an individual connection but the shutdown of whole sectors of society
5 9/11 (2001) An inauspicious start to the 21st Century. The early 20th c. saw the seeds of Bolshevism, German Nationalism, and Fascism.  The seeds thus planted in the 21st c. are equally foreboding
6 OMG (2008) One of the first texting expressions (Oh my God!), another was BFF as in Best Friend Forever First sign that the Internet would change language. Basically the successor to Morse’s ‘What hath God Wrought?
7 Sustainable (’06) The key to ‘Green’ living where natural resources are wisely conserved and thus never depleted. Made small impact in 2006; its importance grows every year and will continue to do so as resources ARE depleted.
8 Hella (2008) An intensive in Youthspeak, generally substituting for the word ‘very’ as in ‘hella expensive’ The world is being subdivided into the various tribes of youth (Trans national to follow.)
9 N00b (2009) A beginner or ‘newbie’, with numbers (zeroes) replacing the letter Os, emphasizing a new trend in written English The Geeks will inherit the Earth
10 Futebol (2011) Ready or not, the World Cup of Futebol, Futbol, Football, and Soccer was on display in Brasil Sports become an evermore global business
Copyright ©2015 Global Language Monitor
11 Nanobots and Grey Goo (’07) Have we already witnessed the most horrifying forms of warfare? Not if you haven’t envisioned … … self-replicating nanobots spewing forth ever mounting piles of grey goo might tend to dampen prospects for living things
12 Climate Change (’00) Near the top of word usage list since day one of the century. Focusing on data from the last hundred years actually obscures the magnitude of climate change; paleohistory suggests sea level changes of 300 feet
13  Derivative (’07) Financial instrument or analytical tool that engendered the Meltdown Intertwined global financial institutions have the ability to bring down the entire global electronic system if they falter
14 Apocalypse, Armageddon & variations thereof (2012) The word Apocalypse has been in ascendance in English for some 500 years.  However, recent years has witnessed an unprecedented resurgence Wars and rumors of war appear to be the least of it
15 Occupy (2011) ‘Occupy’ has risen to pre-eminence through Occupy Movement, the occupation of Iraq, and the so-called ‘Occupied Territories’ The gulf between the haves and have nots, the North and the South, the 1% and all the rest has only worsened through a century of unprecedented economic, scientific and social progress
16 Tsunami (2004/5) Southeast Asian Tsunami took 250,000 lives The Southeast Asian Tsunami was a thirty-foot swell that resulted in a quarter of a million deaths. Might a 300-foot rise in sea-level engender a ‘slow Tsunami with deaths in the millions?
17 Inflation (Cosmic) (2014) OK, so that the Universe expanded a gazillion times faster than the speed of light is now a fact.  Way Cool. At the beginning of the 20th c., scientists thought our local galaxy was the entire universe; since then our view of the universe has expanded a billion billion times
18 Singularity (2015) Singularity was originally the name for Cosmic Genesis Event  (the Big Bang), Spoiler Alert:  Now used to describe when computer intelligence surpasses that of humans (Possibly before mid-century).
19 Global Warming  (2000) Rated highly from Day One of the decade The next few hundred (or few thousand) years are gong to be a longer haul than we can now imagine
20 Refugee (2005) After Katrina, refugees became evacuees After Syria, evacuees became migrants.
Copyright ©2015 Global Language Monitor
21 Emoticon (2013) Words without letters conveying emotional responses, such as smileys :-) Emoticons. Smileys, Emoji’s  communication continues to evolve in unexpected ways
22 Emoji (2014) In 500 years people will look back on the creation of a new alphabet (the alphaBIT):  Letters + numbers + (emoticons) diacritical marks + emoji (picture words). The arrival of the new English Alphabet (the AlphaBIT) is apparently at hand
23 Pope Francis (2013) Also Top Name of the Year for 2013. A new type of Pontiff sets the stage for all those Popes who follow …
24 WMD (2002) Iraq’s (Non-existent) Weapons of Mass Destruction The nuclear device dropped Hiroshima weighed tons, the new backpack versions, mere pounds.
25 Telomeres (2015) Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes. When telomeres wear away, the chromosomes are destroyed, and death ensues.  The goal: protect telomeres, extend life
26 German Ascendance (2015) One of the architects of the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues her reign as the most powerful woman on the planet Germany’s tragic misadventures of the 20th c., belie its dominance of the Euro Zone in the 21st.
27 Anthropocene (2015) A proposed geologic epoch when humans began to impact natural processes An impact that will only grow for better or ill throughout the century.
28 God Particle (2011) The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) continues its quest for the Higgs boson, popularly known as the God Particle. Scientists have calculated a one in fifty million chance that the LHC will generate a small black hole that could devour the Earth.
29 Denier (2014) An ugly new addition to the trending words list as it has become an evermore present invective with sinister overtones (fully intended). Political discourse continues to sink to unprecedented levels
30 Carbon Footprint (2008) The amount of carbon released in a process or activity Burning a gallon of petrol produces enough CO² to melt 400 gallons of ice at the poles.
Copyright ©2015 Global Language Monitor
31  Slumdog (2008) Child inhabitants of Mumbai’s slums Slumdogs continue to multiply as MegaCities continue to seemingly endlessly expand
32 Truthiness (2006) Steven Colbert’s addition to the language appears to be a keeper; While something may not meet the standard of truth, it certainly appears to be true Truthiness seems to set the new standard, unfortunately
33 Change (2008) The top political buzzword of the 2008 US Presidential campaign Change will continue as a top word into the 22nd century — and beyond
34 Chinglish (2005) The Chinese-English Hybrid language growing larger as Chinese influence expands Chinese-English will inevitably cross-fertilize as the two great economic powers contend into the 22nd Century
35 Google (2007) Founders misspelled actual word ‘googol’ Is Google the prototype of the a new “Idea foundry’
36 Twitter (2009) The ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters The ability to encapsulate human thought in wisps of wind (or electron streams) will almost certainly follow
37 H1N1 (2009) More commonly known as Swine Flu Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Ebola, it will only get worse with the hand of man only abetting the enemy
38 Bubble (2007) One financial bubble after another as we move into the 21st century Let’s see: Communism, socialism, fascism, command economies, the silent hand of the market, China’s hybrid — evidently the business cycle will persist
39 The Great War (2014) The centennial of World War I begins four years of soulful commemorations — as the forces it unloosed continue to ripple into (and most probably through) the 21st c. As the Great War (and the ravages thereof} continue into the 21st c., what at the odds that its ramifications will continue throughout the 21st
40 Political Transparency (2007) A noble idea from the Campaign that was among the first casualties of the Obama Administration The explosion of knowledge portends less transparency not more …
Copyright ©2015 Global Language Monitor
To see the Top Words of 2014

The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion speakers (January 2013 estimate) GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time.   NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 300,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources as they emerge.

About the Global Language Monitor

Early in the last century, The Global Language Monitor (GLM) was founded in Silicon Valley by Paul J.J. Payack on the understanding that new technologies and techniques were necessary for truly understanding the world of Big Data, as it is now known.  Silicon Valley is located in what is now the CaliMinor Federation.

Today, from its home in Austin, Texas GLM provides a number of innovative products and services that utilize its ‘algorithmic services’ to help worldwide customers protect, defend and nurture their branded products and entities. Products include ‘brand audits’ to assess the current status, establish baselines, and competitive benchmarks for current intellectual assets and brands, and to defend products against ambush marketing.

These services are currently provided to the Fortune 500, the Higher Education market, high technology firms, the worldwide print and electronic media, and the global fashion industry, among others.

For more information, call 1.512.801.6823, email, or visit