The Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year Couldn’t Be More Relevant
The Oxford Dictionary has picked its Word of the Year, with “post-truth” being the word that it believed most perfectly summarised 2016.
Post-truth, which the dictionary states was first used in 1992, received a 2,000% usage increase this year as a result of a number of huge political events, including the UK’s exit from the EU and Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign. Both of these events were widely criticised for their frequent use of information that was proven to be incorrect, with the UK’s Leave campaign rallying support with a false claim that they would be able to inject £350 million per week into the NHS, while Trump was frequently caught out lying in campaigns, interviews and on Twitter.
“Post-truth” has therefore beaten other political buzzwords such as Brexiteer and alt-right in order to be named 2016’s Word of the Year, with it representing a time in which the general public largely overlooked statistics and facts in favour of their personal beliefs. Post-truths is described by the Oxford 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.”
Discussing the word, Oxford Dictionaries’ Casper Grathwohl said: “Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time. We first saw the frequency really spike this year in June with buzz over the Brexit vote and again in July when Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination.
“Given that usage of the term hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, I wouldn’t be surprised if post-truth becomes one of the defining words of our time.”
Post-truth was one of ten words featured in the Word of the Year shortlist. These included adulting, alt-right, Brexiteer, chatbot, coulrophobia, glass cliff, hygge, Latinx and woke.