Every year, Oxford Dictionaries in the U.S. and U.K. each select a word to "reflect the passing year in language." For 2016, both sides of the Atlantic decided that Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year is "post-truth," and literally no one can be surprised by this.
Oxford Dictionaries defines post-truth as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." Although the post-truth concept isn't exactly new, usage of the term spiked by roughly 2,000% this year, a phenomenon attributed to coverage of Brexit in the U.K. and the presidential election in the U.S.
This is the fourth year in a row that the U.S. and U.K. Oxford Dictionaries have picked the same word of the year, following selfie (2013), vape (2014), and the "face with tears of joy" emoji (2015). The two teams have only chosen the same word two other times in the last 12 years, with chav in 2004 and squeezed middle in 2011.
Post-truth was part of a shortlist of 10 words, most of which had political connotations. Some were obviously stronger contenders than others, but I'll let you decide which ones you like best. The nine other entries on Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year shortlist were:
- adulting: "the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks."
- alt-right: "an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content."
- Brexiteer: "a person who is in favour of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union."
- chatbot: "a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet."
- coulrophobia: "extreme or irrational fear of clowns."
- glass cliff: "used with reference to a situation in which a woman or member of a minority group ascends to a leadership position in challenging circumstances where the risk of failure is high."
- hygge: "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)."
- Latinx: "a person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina); relating to people of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina)."
- woke: "alert to injustice in society, especially racism."
What's your word of the year? Let's talk about it on Twitter!