Top Words of 2014: The heart emoji named most used term of the year

'Bae', 'clickbait' and 'quindecennial' also made the top 20

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The Independent Online

In a year punctuated by tragedy and conflict, the unlikely winner of 2014's Top English Word is not a word at all – but the heart emoji.

For the first time ever, an ideograph has been named the Top Word of the Year by analysts at the Global Language Monitor (GLM), who have revealed that variations of the symbol for love have been used billions of times a day across the world.

Around 1,000 recognised characters are currently used to portray an emotion, expression, a state of mind, a person, place or object - with another 35 to be made available over the next year, according to the organisation.

Analysts also revealed that a word did not claim second place on the list either, as the heart was followed by "#", widely used on social media, with "vape" coming in third.

'Vape' was the third most-used work of 2014 (Getty Images)

Fourth on the list was "blood moon" while "nano" came in fifth.

Other words to top the list include "photo bomb", "caliphate", "bae", and "clickbait".

Meanwhile, Ebola topped the annual list of names, while 'Hands up, don't shoot' was the most popular phrase - used by protesters who called for action after the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in St Louis, Missouri in August.

Last year, "404", the internet error message, was the most popular word.

Since 2003, GML has been publishing Word, Phrase, and Names of the Year lists with the intention of documenting a history of the English language.

To make their findings, the GLM analyses the Internet, including blogs, as well as the top 250,000 print and electronic news media outlets, and new sources including Twitter.

Words and concepts are then tracked according to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.

But rather than lamenting the death of the English language, GLM President Paul JJ Payack argues that the use of symbols are merely part of its evolution.


GLM’s top words, phrases and names this year represent some five continents, which continues to confirm the ever-expanding nature of the English language, its website explains.

“Each emoji represents an emotion, expression, or state of mind, or a person, place or thing, so much so, that we see the birth of the AlphaBorg or AlphaBit,” said Mr Payack.

"The English Language is now undergoing a remarkable transformation unlike any in its 1400 year history —  its system of writing, the Alphabet, is gaining characters at amazing rate." he added.

Demonstrators protest against the deayth of Michael Brow in Florida

The Top Words of 2014

1. The Heart ♥ Emoji (for love) —  The Heart ♥ Emoji (for love) is the Top Word of 2014.  Each emoji represents an emotion, expression, or state of mind, or a person, place or thing.

2. Hashtag  — The re-invented pound-sign becomes evermore powerful.

3. Vape  — Smoking an electronic or e-cigarette, shorthand for vaporize, or vaping.  Vapers are banned from indoor vaping in New York and other locales.

4. Blood Moon — Four total eclipses of the moon in eighteen-month span.  Some Christians see it as the presaging a “lunar apocalypse”.

5. Nano — From Greek for dwarf, small; now 1 billionth of a meter, and any number of words surrounding nano technology.

6. Photo Bomb — Breaking into a ‘pre-arranged” photograph without authorization resulting in often humorous outcomes. 

7. Caliphate — Literally, a land ruled by an Islamic Caliph typically governed under Sharia Law.

8. (White) privilege — The alleged advantages of having lighter colored skin in a diverse society.

9. Bae — Term of endearment for one’s object of desire.

10. “Bash” Tag — Using a hashtag to undermine your frenemies.

11. Transparency —  That state of government openness that is apparently unachievable in the Western World.

12. Sustainable — The Jimmy Carter of words; keeps getting stronger since it was WOTY  in 2006.

13. Clickbait — A link  you just have to click on, though its more of a paid-for bait-and-switch.

14. Quindecennial  —  Fifteen year anniversary; 2014 is the quindecinnal of the 21st century.

15. Comet — Comet 67p has a visitor from the Rosetta Spacecraft.