NEW YORK (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Gun violence across the country, discourse about climate change, the state of our democracy and an angsty little movie star called Forky helped propel “existential” to Dictionary.com‘s word of the year.

The choice Monday reflects months of high-stakes threats and crises, real and pondered, across the news, the world and throughout 2019.

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Dictionary.com crunches lookup and other data to decide which word to anoint each year.

The site’s senior research editor, John Kelly, says lookup spikes occurred throughout the year when news events were framed in existential terms.

That includes both Bernie Sanders and Greta Thunberg calling climate change an existential crisis. It also includes former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s vying for the Democratic presidential nod, painting President Donald Trump as an existential threat to decency.

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