With the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency and the victory of the Leave campaign in Britain’s EU referendum, 2016 has been a year that has bewildered many analysts.
Reflecting the political upheavals in both Britain and America, Oxford Dictionaries has announced a joint US-UK word of the year: “post-truth”.
The word is an adjective, defined in the dictionary as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
The word beat competition from “adulting,” “alt-right,” “Brexiteer,” “glass cliff” and “woke”.
While it has been around since 1992, when it was first used in relation to the Persian Gulf War, usage of “post-truth” has increased by 2,000 per cent over the past year, according to the Oxford English Corpus, which analyses 150 million spoken and written words from various sources each month.
The Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year “reflects the passing year in language”, and a separate word is often chosen for Britain and the US.
“What we found especially interesting is that [post-truth] encapsulated a trans-Atlantic phenomenon,” said Katherine Connor Martin, the head of United States dictionaries at Oxford University Press.
“Often, when looking at words, you’ll find one that’s a really big deal in the UK but not in the US”
Last year’s, controversial, choice was the “face with tears of joy” emoji.
About | Word of the Year 2016
Post-truth: Generally applied to politics, specifically the US election and the EU Referendum. Taking place in a time when the truth has become an irrelevant concept.
Alt-right: Extremely conservative movement that rejects mainstream politics and disseminates deliberately provocative content via social media
Glass cliff: The situation where a woman of member of a minority is appointed to a leadership position when the chance for failure is particularly high
Hygge: Cosy and comfortable, with Danish overtones
Chatbot: A computer program that simulates conversation with humans
Adulting: Accomplishing mundane but necessary goals, in the manner of an adult
Brexiteer: A person who backs the UK leaving the European Union
Woke: Alert to injustice, especially racism
Coulrophobia: Irrational fear of clowns
Latinx: A person of Latin American descent and indeterminate gender, used in place of “latino” or “latina”