When Hollywood talks, people listen. Then they Google. Particularly when it comes to words they want to make sure they’re understanding correctly. During last night’s Academy Awards ceremony, there were a few words that left movie fans scratching their heads (or at least double-checking themselves). The logophiles at Dictionary.com kept an eye on which words were getting the most lookups last night, and it was the night’s two Best Actresses (Leading and Supporting) who got the most attention for their vocabulary.
“It’s fascinating to see what words pique our users’ interest during big events like the Academy Awards,” Dictionary.com marketing manager Lauren Sliter tells mental_floss. “Did the host use a word in a joke that was unfamiliar? What was that word used in an acceptance speech? Last night, acceptance speeches were a gold mine for trending words.”
In addition to the word “Oscar” itself, which saw a 510 percent increase in searches (a Dictionary.com blog post addressed the origin of the name), it was Best Supporting Actress Viola Davis and Best Actress Emma Stone who got people to turn away from their TVs and to their computer (or phone) screens.
Davis made history back in January when her nomination for Denzel Washington's Fences made her the first black actress to receive three Oscar nominations. And her win last night was even more monumental, as it makes her the first black actress to claim a Triple Crown victory (the industry term for an actor who wins a Tony, Emmy, and Academy Award—putting her a single Grammy away from an EGOT). In accepting the golden guy, Davis shared where she finds inspiration, telling the A-list crowd (and millions of viewers worldwide):
“You know, there is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered and that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time—what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories—the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost. I became an artist and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
The speech saw lookups of “exhume” spike by 274 percent.
When Stone, who was named Best Actress for La La Land, stepped onto the stage, she admitted that, “I realize that a moment like this is a huge confluence of luck and opportunity, and so I want to thank [La La Land director] Damien Chazelle for the opportunity to be part of a project that was so special and once in a lifetime.”
Dictionary.com gave Stone a Twitter shout-out for her win—and her vocabulary, which led to a 65 percent increase in searches of “confluence.”
Academy Award viewers learned the definition of the word “snafu” for themselves as an envelope mix-up with the night’s biggest award, Best Picture, saw the cast and crew of La La Land tearfully accept the award … only to have to hand it over to the makers of Moonlight, its rightful winners. Not even Hollywood would have thought to write an ending like that.