The word was chosen based upon its high search rankings on the dictionary’s website, which gets around 100 million page views every month.
“This gives us a sense of what people are thinking about,” Merriam-Webster editor Peter Sokolowski says. “We’re kind of eavesdropping on a national conversation.”
Sokolowski says “culture” is a “chameleon of a word” and further explains:
The term conveys a kind of academic attention to systematic behavior and allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group: we speak of a “culture of transparency” or “consumer culture.” “Culture” can be either very broad (as in “celebrity culture” or “winning culture”) or very specific (as in “test-prep culture” or “marching band culture”).