The Free Dictionary Names Its 2017 Article of the Year

The Definite Winner

Every day, the millions who visit The Free Dictionary aren’t only looking up words in the dictionary—they’re searching things ranging from encyclopedia articles to idioms to grammar lessons and many other topics covered by our vast collection of reference content.
To mark the end of 2017, the editorial staff here at The Free Dictionary took a look back at the year’s top searches to see what stood out. And there, in the top 10 searches, was the one article that people searched for more than any other: “the.”
(We couldn’t resist.)
ICYMI: “The,” in grammar, is what’s called an article, specifically a definite article, which means it is used to distinguish a specific noun (person, place, or thing). Indefinite articles, on the other hand, are used for general or nonspecific nouns, and include “a” (which ranked 22nd on the list of the year’s top searches) and “an.”
It’s easy to see why “the” has a definite advantage over its fellow articles: “the” can precede singular and plural nouns alike—even those that start with vowels. Now that’s one determined determiner!
You can learn all about articles in this grammar lesson. After you read it, read this again and it will be even funnier!

Honorable Mention

Also appearing in the top 10 searches of 2017 was another unsung grammar hero: “full stop.” This versatile phrase is both another name for the punctuation mark more famously known as the period (.) and an increasingly popular idiom used to emphasize that a statement is definitive and not subject to further debate or in need of any ifs, ands, or buts.
As a mark of punctuation, a full stop is a type of terminal point, meaning it is used to definitively mark the end of a sentence, unlike commas and semicolons, which represent pauses or breaks in the sentence, or ellipses, which can be used to indicate omitted text or speech that trails off. The other terminal points are exclamation points and question marks.
So there you have it: the year’s top searches included a definite article and a terminal point. In 2017, amid all the controversy, it looks like people were looking for some certainty and closure, if only in grammar.
What do you think will be the top search in 2018?
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