Vice President Joe Biden sparked a wave of curiosity when he criticized a debate answer by 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan as "malarkey."

"With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey," Biden said after Ryan answered a question about the Romney campaign's critique of the Obama administration's response to the September 11 Benghazi attack.

Biden's mention of the word helped its popularity spike on Meriam-Webster.com, and helped put "malarkey" in the website's list of 2012 Words of the Year.

The AP reports:

"With all due respect, that's a bunch of MALARKEY," declared Biden during a particularly tough row with Ryan. The mention sent look-ups of malarkey soaring on Merriam-webster.com, Sokolowski said, adding: "Clearly a one-week wonder, but what a week!"

Actually, it was more like what a day. Look-ups of malarkey represented the largest spike of a single word on the website by percentage, at 3,000 percent, in a single 24-hour period this year. The company won't release the number of page views per word but said the site gets about 1.2 billion overall each year.

Malarkey, with the alternative spelling of "y'' at the end, is of unknown origin, but Merriam-Webster surmises it's more Irish-American than Irish, tracing it to newspaper references as far back as 1929.

Beyond "nonsense," malarkey can mean "insincere or pretentious talk or writing designed to impress one and usually to distract attention from ulterior motives or actual conditions," noted Sokolowski.

"Malarkey" wasn't the only 2012 Word of the Year boosted by the election. "Socialism," "capitalism" and "democracy" also made the list.

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