Google define genuflect you will got a 'mentions graph' of genuflect. It's very interesting that the graph is very steep while graph of other words, run for example, are very smooth. Any idea why this happens?

Google results for "define genuflect" showing spikes in mentions in the 1920s and 1940s, declining in the 1950s

Google mentions graph for "run," showing more uniform popularity compared to "genuflect"

  • 1
    Could the spikes reflect the sudden growth of religious faith/church attendance due to post-war effects? It would be interesting to comparison graph post-war surges in marriages/birth rates next to 'genuflect'
    – Third News
    Apr 12, 2014 at 7:38
  • 3
    ... a sort of knee-jerk reaction? Apr 12, 2014 at 7:41
  • 1
    @ThirdNews You employ an interesting infinitive there 'to comparison'. Not come across that before!
    – WS2
    Apr 12, 2014 at 8:24
  • 1
    'genuflect' is pretty rare and so it is likely that any single use that is propagated will change frequency highly. The word was popularized by Tom Lehrer in Vatican Rag.
    – Mitch
    Apr 12, 2014 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


Mitch's point in the comments is most likely the explanation. "genuflect" is used much less often than a word like "run" and if you plot them together, the "genuflect" usage is a flat line at the bottom of the scale.

So the basic answer is that any line with enough data points will be smoothed by Google's graphic software to look like it does in the plot for "run". "Genuflect" will not receive the same treatment because there aren't enough data points.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.