On a road trip, I turned to my sister and asked, “If you had only One Word to describe the meaning of life, what would your word be?”

“Oh,” she said. “I need some time to think.” We started to ask everyone we met along the way what his or her One Word was. The gas station attendant in Arkansas couldn’t think of his word right away and asked for our contact information. It turned out that most of the people needed time to think, and most people insisted on knowing how to get in touch with us in order to share their word. There wasn’t a single repeat in the first forty words.

For the last five years, I've continued to ask people their word. Eagerly, they always ask me what some of the other words were. The answer is always the same: You must first offer your personal One Word so that it truly reflects your own thoughts. After you submit your word, you will be able to see other One Words.

Aren´t you curious what my word was? What my sister´s was? The gas station attendant´s? That’s how I feel about your word. Maybe you can´t boil down the meaning of life to One Word, but maybe you can, and what a gift it is to know that One Word, to hold on to it, to give it away.

The goal is to collect 10,000 words from all parts of the world. Participation in this experiment is purely voluntary, purely for fun.

Please read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. By submitting a word, you acknowledge that you have had the opportunity to read and have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and that you agree to abide by it.

And welcome to the road trip.

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