Canadians just want to know what 'woke' means, study finds

Top ten Googled definitions in Canada this year also include racism, recession, woman, aphasia, metaphor, pegging, capitalism, gaslighting and narcissist

Article content

December is the time for pundits to pick the word of the year. Oxford went with “rizz,” short for charisma. Merriam-Webster picked “authentic,” while chose “hallucinate,” as in that thing that chatbots do.

But the people at, a website that helps people solve word puzzles, wanted to know not just what words people were using, but what definitions they were looking for. After all, more people use Google as a dictionary than use dictionaries any more.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

Turns out that, for Canadians at least, the word is “woke.”

The team pulled data from Google to find queries that included a term plus the word “definition,” then further parsed the data into individual countries.

The most-searched definition in Canada, at 7,200 per month, was “woke,” which means — well, a lot of things to different people, although the first hit from Google is merely “past of wake,” which suggests that Google itself might not be woke.

The rest of the list for Canadians: racism, recession, woman, aphasia, metaphor, pegging, capitalism, gaslighting and narcissist, which you don’t really need to look up — just look in the mirror.

Related Stories

Other countries had different lists, although there was some crossover. For instance, the top 10 in the United States had three of the same terms as in Canada. Topping the list south of the border: Gaslighting, followed by empathy, metaphor, recession, simile, culture, fascism, adjective, agnostic and hyperbole. (You have to appreciate that metaphor and simile both made the list. Remember, a simile is like a metaphor.)

Advertisement 3

Article content

A few identical terms also showed up in Britain’s list, which was topped by pegging, followed by racism, sodomy, woke, osmosis, woman, sustainability, equity, mental health and gaslighting, the only word to make the top 10 in all three countries. Pegging is an interesting top choice, given that it’s something you can do with a tent or tarpaulin, or with prices, but also with another person, and maybe not a definition to want to be searching while at work.

Pegging was also the top term searched for in Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Woke also topped the charts in Denmark and the Netherlands, while Belgium went with wokeism.

definitions looked up in north america in 2023
From gaslighting to love, these were the most-searched-for definitions in North America. Photo by

The maps produced as part of the study show a fascinating flow of words across the world, with each country set alongside its top search term. For instance, the rest of North America includes practical terms (Costa Rica went with “job”) as well as philosophical ones (“responsibility” in Honduras and El Salvador) and from the general — “science” in Mexico — to the specific; “pyroclastic flow” in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Advertisement 4

Article content

And while it’s tempting to ascribe national stereotypes to the top terms — Sweden’s was feminism, while Germany and Spain had resilience, and France eventually chose procrastination — the study did not offer anything beyond just a list. And several countries — among them Russia, China and North Korea — weren’t included in the survey.

Even so, one can get lost in the sometimes random nature of some of the terms. While it makes sense that the beautiful island nation of Mauritius would have tourism as its top choice, or the endangered paradise of Fiji would be looking up climate change, what to make of South Africa’s obsessions with photosynthesis, or India’s simple search for noun?

There’s a whimsical side to the data as well. For all the pegging and entropy, lupus and earthquakes, sepsis and basketball, there was one term that topped the list in more countries that any other — 14 in all, including Benin, the Czech Republic, Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Jamaica, Lebanon, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Portugal, Slovakia, Togo, Tunisia.

It was love. Good luck defining that one.

Our website is the place for the latest breaking news, exclusive scoops, longreads and provocative commentary. Please bookmark and sign up for our newsletters here.

Article content

  1. This Just In: CHANEL Bleu de Chanel Limited-Edition Parfum, Nuxe Prodigieuse Neroli gift set, and YSL Lash Clash & Libre Set

    Three buzzed-about holiday beauty gift sets we tried this week.

    CHANEL Bleu de Chanel Limited-Edition Parfum.
  2. Gifts to make the women in your life smile — what to buy in 2023

    Thoughtful and unique gift ideas for mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and partners

    Make this year's gift extra special.
  3. Advertisement 2

  4. Canadian concert tours: Hottest tickets in 2024

    Majid Jordan, Blake Shelton, and Styx are on sale now

    Majid Jordan: Good People Live
  5. The best online deals in the Canadian retail space right now

    Therabody, Walmart and echobee, to name a few

    This week in Canadian ecommerce deals.
  6. Dyson Corrale review: What really makes it different from other hair straighteners?

    We tried it — a superior product (but we have some suggestions)

    Dyson Corrale