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Whitney Houston topped Google's list of the most searched-for people in 2012, ahead of the Duchess of Cambridge, the search giant has revealed.

Houston, who died in February, was the top trending person in Googlesearches in Britain this year, followed by The Duchess of Cambridge. Searches for 'Kate Middleton', the Duchess's maiden name, were ahead of those for Gary Barlow, Tulisa and Jessica Ennis.

Other people making the trending search list in 2012 included footballer Fabrice Muamba, who on-pitch heart attack in March forced his retirement from the sport, Prince Harry and Usain Bolt.

Google releases its Zeitgeist search list annually to show how trends in search have changed in the previous year. Google eliminates the searches that are the same every year, such as 'email', to identify the terms that have seen the biggest increase on previous years.

The top search trend for 2012 was Euro 2012, with searches for the football tournament coming in ahead of searches for Olympic tickets. Other trending terms included Natwest online, which made news this summer with a technical outage that lasted for days, iPad 3 and Gangnam Style, the Korean pop hit that became a viral success.

Though Olympics tickets finished second in the overall trends list, there were plenty of searches for Olympic athletes. Topping the list of British Olympians was Andy Murray, who won tennis gold and went on to win his first Grand Slam tournament at the US Open.

Murray was the most searched-for Olympian, ahead of Tom Daley, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah. British cyclists did well, with Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy and Laura Trott all in the top 10.

Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter, was top of the list of non-British Olympians, followed by US swimmer Michael Phelps and Roger Federer.

Gadget of the year, at least in British Google searches, was Apple's third generation iPad, released at Easter, followed by the iPad mini, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 4S.

Entertainment trends included Skyfall, the latest Bond film, as the most searched-for film, while children's television show Mike the Knight led the TV list and Gangnam Style was the number one trending song.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, was the most trending politician, with Boris Johnson second and Justine Greening third. None of the three main party leaders made the top 10.

Britons also turn to Google for answers, it seems, with "what is love?" being the most common 'what is' question, followed by the less philosophical "what is iCloud?" and "what is 3G".

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