Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders helped searches for existential jump 179% when he said that climate change is "an existential crisis that impacts not just you and me and our generation but our kids and our grandchildren" at a February town hall, according to the website. Searches also spiked during natural disasters including Hurricane Dorian, fires in the Amazon rainforest, and an earthquake in Albania.
Vice President Joe Biden also gave the word a boost when he said that President Donald Trump "is literally an existential threat to America."
But despite the word's negative connotations, Dictionary.com said that "existential" has also helped the nation cope. It opened the post with a nod to "Toy Story 4," in which a spork named Forky has an existential crisis.
"Forky's existential crisis resonates with audiences because we all think at one time or another, 'What is my purpose in life?'" "Toy Story 4" director Josh Cooley told Dictionary.com. "Examining what it means to be alive through the googly eyes of a disposable utensil, used for soup, salad, or maybe chili, has us questioning our purpose beyond what we think we are and what we can be. The food is just the metaphor, but Forky's journey is our journey, and he reminds us not to throw ourselves away!"