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Nelson Mandela was appropriately the world’s most searched-for subject in 2013, according to Google’s annual Zeitgeist list. Searches all related to Mandela’s life, his achievements and news from his memorial service in South Africa following his death on 5 December. 

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

Other high-profile deaths featured highly on Google’s search indexes for the year, including Hollywood actor Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in November, and Glee star Cory Monteith, who died in July.

Gadgets entered the mainstream consciousness with popular global searches for Apple’s iPhone 5S, the Samsung Galaxy 4S and Sony’s PlayStation 4 games console. The Harlem Shake, North Korea and the birth in the UK of Prince George all raised global interest.

The UK was grappling with twerking, yolo and Zumba this year, according to Google’s analysis of the country’s top trending and most-searched-for terms for 2013.

Celebrities inevitably score highly, with Kim Kardashian in pole position, closely followed by One Direction, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Kate Middleton – but in seventh place, just after Taylor Swift, is a surprise appearance from journalist Martin Lewis, whose Money Saving Expert site dispenses financial advice to all.

Beyoncé sits at eighth place in the celebrity list, which was compiled before her latest album was released on 13 December.

The most-searched-for movies tell their own story: 2013 was the year of superheroes, with Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 jostling for the top spot. The most searched for kids’ film was Despicable Me 2 in fourth place, while The Hangover Part III scrapes in as the highest ranking comedy in 10th.

A more accurate picture of 2013 can be drawn up by looking at the trending searches – those that had the largest difference in traffic between this year and the last.

As well as the aforementioned questions, all in the top 10 queries beginning with “what is…”, the company has revealed the top 10 trending searches overall.

A fascination with death is evident throughout. Paul Walker, the Fast and Furious actor who died in a car crash in late November, took the top spot; Cory Monteith, the Glee star who overdosed in July, was number four; Nelson Mandela was number six; and Margaret Thatcher was number nine.

“Celebrities always get a lot of interest and the passing of well-known figures makes people want to learn more about them,” said Google UK’s Claudine Beaumont. “Despite that, some of the more traditional aspects of British life, from the Grand National to the royal birth, have generated many Google searches and will be remembered as events that have characterised the year.”

Google also revealed the top trending apps, and social takes the lead: Facebook, Snapchat, BBM and Vine are all in the top 10, as are Bitstrips, Tinder and When we aren’t trying to find love – or just our friends – we are watching sport. BT Sport was the top trending app of 2013, which will be some comfort to the company in its battle with Sky.

Rounding out the top 10 are Candy Crush Saga and Google Drive; the former is 2013’s most lucrative mobile game, while the latter was only launched in April last year, meaning there was guaranteed to be a major increase on the year before.

For anyone still not sure about twerking, it refers to “a type of dancing in which the dancer, usually a woman, shakes her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer’s buttocks to shake, ‘wobble’ and ‘jiggle'”.

Zumba is “an aerobic fitness programme featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin American dance”, and yolo is an acronym for “you only live once”.

Source: The Guardian