NILES, IL - NOVEMBER 10: A Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is displayed in a bookstore November 10, 2003 in Niles, Illinois. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

'Surreal' dubbed Merriam-Webster's 2016 word of the year

Less than two weeks before 2016 comes to a close, reference-book publisher Merriam-Webster has announced its word of the year: surreal. 

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According to the company, the word was looked up significantly more frequently in 2016 than it was in previous years.

Search for the word spiked three times this year: In March, July and November.

The March spike came as the word was used in coverage of the Brussels terror attacks on March 22, when detonated bombs killed dozens of civilians and injured hundreds.

Search for "surreal" peaked again in July following news coverage of a coup attempt in Turkey and of the terrorist attack in Nice, France.

The largest uptick in search for the word came in November after Election Day.

Merriam-Webster defines surreal as "marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream."

Dictionary.com named "xenophobia" the company's chosen word of the year

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