OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2014, the Ebola virus, police brutality and domestic violence, as well as hackers stealing the personal information of millions dominated the news. Vulnerability and visibility were at the core of the year's most notable headlines. Encapsulating those themes, Dictionary.com's Word of the Year for 2014 is exposure.
Exposure took on grave importance as an Ebola outbreak ravaged West Africa and health workers in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria struggled to contain the deadly virus. Ebola gained widespread exposure or publicity within the U.S. after two events brought the conversation home: in August, the first American was treated for Ebola on U.S. soil; and in October, Thomas Eric Duncan died from the disease in Dallas, igniting a wave of attention in the news.
Exposure of high-profile crimes and misconduct sparked nationwide reflection. The assault perpetrated by football player Ray Rice against his then-fiancee Janay Palmer that was captured on a elevator video camera in February but didn't fully come to light until a video was leaked in September; the racist comments of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that were exposed in April; and the killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., opened up critical conversations on the state of our culture in 2014.
Exposure as disclosure of something private or secret gained new relevance in 2014 as revelations of hackers stealing the personal information of millions repeatedly surfaced. The vulnerability of consumers' personal information became glaringly apparent when Target announced in January that the data of 110 million customers was stolen and on the black market. Later in the year it became clear that such exposure could happen to anyone: the personal photos of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Rihanna were leaked online in August when their Apple iCloud accounts were hacked.
"Exposure has several meanings, and this year those meanings took on new relevance," said Michele Turner, CEO of Dictionary.com. "From exposure to the Ebola virus, to exposure of personal information in online hacks, to the exposure of reprehensible behavior, we've seen exposure in all its meanings trend throughout 2014."
Among the other words that were discussed for Word of the Year were "borders" and "disrupt," and buzzwords such as "wearables" and "bae."
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