WASHINGTON: “Post-truth” has been named Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 international word of the year, to “reflect the passing year in language”.
The word surpassed other competing words like “adulting,” “alt-right,” “Brexiteer,” “glass cliff” and “woke”.
According to analysis by Oxford Dictionaries, the word was chosen from a shortlist selected to reflect the social, cultural, political, economic, and technological trends and events of 2016.
Defined by the dictionary as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”, editors said that use of the term “post-truth” had increased by around 2,000% in 2016 compared to last year.
The spike in usage, it said, is “in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States”.
Oxford Dictionaries’s word of the year is intended to “reflect the passing year in language”, with post-truth following the controversial choice last year of the “face with tears of joy” emoji.
The publisher’s US and UK dictionary teams sometimes plump for different choices – in 2009 the UK went for “simples” and the US for “unfriend”; in 2006 the UK went for “bovvered” and the US for “carbon-neutral” – but this year teams on both sides of the Atlantic chose the same word.
Contenders for the title had included the noun “alt-right”, shortened from the fuller form “alternative right” and defined as “an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterised by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content”.
First used in 2008, its use “surged” this spring and summer, said the dictionary, with 30% of usage in August alone. Brexiteer was also in the running for the crown, along with non-political terms including coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, and hygge, the Danish concept of cosiness.