The Lycos 50 is a hand-filtered list, so general terms like "car," "weather," "news," "MP3" and "sex" were disregarded when compiling the list, a spokesman for Lycos said.
"The Lycos 50 is about trends, not about general terms. Everybody knows "sex" is entered most in any search engine," said Renzo Moscou, a spokesman for Lycos.
The chart makers also add up all the queries that touch on one term. Misspellings and plurals are combined, so are variations on a theme. The Lycos 50 was compiled from lists of the most entered terms by users of the search site from 1 January through to 25 November.
Runners up on the annual chart are Japanese cartoon phenomenon Dragonball Z, which came in fourth last year, and Pokemon, first in 1999.
The highest newcomer is Napster, which finished eighth, and was playfully dubbed "rookie of the year" by Lycos.
Other "winners" are the Summer Olympics, which finished 10th, the US Election 2000 at 12th, and the seemingly general "marijuana" at 20th. The Bible finished in spot 25. Besides Spears, two other entertainers broke the top 10 -- actor Pamela Anderson finished sixth and singer-actor Jennifer Lopez came in ninth.
"Strangely absent" on the list, according to Lycos, is golf pro Tiger Woods. His sport is number 40 on the list, while the two-time Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year doesn't even make it to the top 200.
While superstar Madonna bounced back on the list this year (37), some of last year's stars have faded. The Beanie Babies, the film The Blair Witch Project, and actress Jennifer Love Hewitt disappeared.
Lycos predicted that bands Tool and Destiny's Child, movies Tomb Raider and Lord of the Rings, actress Angelia Jolie, and the XFL, a spring football league, will make the 2001 list.