Heart emoji anointed 2014’s word of the year

The Internet broke language in 2014. The Global Language Monitor (GLM) has awarded the heart emoji as the most popular word in the English language. 

“This is the first time an ideograph has captured Word of the Year honors,” the GLM explained in its 15th annual survey of the English language. “The Heart and Love emoji, emoticon, and variations thereof appear billions of times a day around the world—across languages and cultures.”

This perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise given the universality of emojis and emoticons—symbols that make sense no matter the language of the reader.

In its reasoning for crowning the heart emoji, the GLM pointed to data from FiveThirtyEight collected in June 2014 that showed the heart popped on Twitter feeds with a significant amount of regularity: 342 million appearances. That was more than any other emoji by a long shot. (The “tears of joy” emoji was the only one to come close, at 278 million.) And variations that included hearts were all over the place, appearing in 14 of the top 100 emojis.

Clearly Twitter users <3 the heart emoji.

Also cracking the top 10 words were “vape,” “bae,” and “bashtag,” so maybe the best thing for the English language is that a word didn’t win because some of ours are becoming embarrassing.

In the top names and nouns of the year, Pope Francis was dethroned from his top spot in 2013 and was replaced by Ebola. The NSA also hung around in the top 10 after ranking third last year.

“Hands up, don’t shoot” was the most popular phrase of 2014.. “Global warming” and “climate change” shared the number three spot in 2013 and now occupy the three and four spots, respectively, meaning we’re talking about them a lot—unfortunately, too often followed by the words “is a hoax.”

GLM explained that its word of the year picks are “based upon actual word usage throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion people.”  To qualify for the list, the words must be used globally, have at least 25,000 citations, and appear in various forms of media the world-over. “The goal is to find the word usage that will endure the test of time,” the GLM said.

The organization employs a trend tracking service called NarrativeTracker, which conducts real time global Internet and social media analysis. “NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 275,000 print and electronic global media (not limited to the English-language-based media), as well as new social media sources as they emerge,” it said. (Can a language tracker that still uses the term “blogosphere” be trusted?)

Below are all the top words, nouns, names, and phrases of 2014:

Top words of 2014

  1. The Heart Emoji

  2. Hashtag

  3. Vape  

  4. Blood Moon

  5. Nano

  6. Photo Bomb  

  7. Caliphate

  8. (White) privilege

  9. Bae

  10. “Bash” Tag

  11. Transparency

  12. Sustainable

  13. Clickbait

  14. Quindecennial

  15. Comet

The Top Phrases of 2014

  1. Hands Up, Don’t Shoot

  2. Cosmic Inflation

  3. Global Warming

  4. Climate Change

  5. War on Women

  6. All Time High

  7. Rogue Nukes

  8. Near-Earth Asteroid

  9. Big Data

  10. Polar Vector

The Top Names of 2014

  1. Ebola

  2. Pope Francis

  3. World War One

  4. Médecins Sans Frontières

  5. MH370

  6. FIFA World Cup

  7. Ice Bucket Challenge

  8. Crimea

  9. The Mid-terms

  10. NSA

  11. Prince George of Cambridge

  12. Malala Yousafzai

  13. Xi Jinping

  14. President Obama

  15. Sochi Olympics

H/T The Verge | Photo via The All Nite Images/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

AJ Dellinger

AJ Dellinger

AJ Dellinger is a seasoned technology writer whose work has appeared in Digital Trends, International Business Times, and Newsweek. In 2018, he joined Gizmodo as the nights and weekend editor.