Like rumble strips on newsprint, difficult words trip up readers. Now we know exactly which words make The New York Times’ readers obstreperous (that is, sullen). Yes, obstreperous is one of the 50 most looked up words on the newspaper’s website. To provide online remedy for hard words, nytimes.com allows you to click on them so their meanings pop up. The most looked-up words of all in 2010? Baldenfreude, a one-time coinage by commentator Maureen Dowd, got 4,734 hits. Mirabile dictu, which means ‘wonderful to tell’ got 2,778 hits and crèches ( c’mon we know what this one means), got 2,711 hits. As for us, we’re still scratching our heads, pondering over Kristallnacht. That’s what happens when we write like we speak, wot?
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