Word geeks are ecstatic about Google’s latest curio that searches word occurrences over time and across the Google books database. Choose a word or two, or a phrase, and see how usage has changed over the centuries. Great fun. The word Athenaeum for example peaked in usage in the 1940’s and has been in decline ever since although there has been a slight uptick in the new millennium. The results for the words men and women:

Women enjoyed a brief usage victory in the 1990’s. If you search “man,woman” the results are quite different, with woman still far behind. This tool has created a major buzz on the internet; of note is this Atlantic piece, where the comments are as interesting as the article, and of course there are naysayers of the project such as this post, but geek that I am I think it’s wonderful. Another interesting search “geek,nerd”–geeks rule!

Thanks John and Twitter