NATIONWIDE — A word that Merriam-Webster said was at the center of several major national stories has been named its 2018 word of the year: "justice."

  • Merriam-Webster names its 2018 word of the year
  • Searches for "justice" spiked 74 percent from last year
  • Publisher says word is at crux of several national stories

The publishing company said people searched for the word 74 percent more this year than last year.

"The concept of justice was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice," Merriam-Webster said. It was among the website's most consulted words.

Coverage of national events such as special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia as well as Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings piqued interest in the word.

This year's runner-up word was "maverick," which jumped in searches after the death of Sen. John McCain.

Other words that Merriam-Webster identified as seeing spikes in searches include "nationalism," "pansexual," lodestar," "Laurel," and "respect."

The publisher's 2017 word of the year was "feminism."

Information from CNN was used in this article.