With 2016 being one of the sensational years in living political memory, post-truth has skyrocketed in popularity as a result of a “growing distrust of facts,” according to Casper Grathwohl, President of Oxford Dictionaries.
Grathwohl believes post-truth has the potential of becoming “one of the defining words of our time.”
Defined 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, post-truth and the shortlist were chosen to reflect the social, cultural, political, economic, and technological trends and events that have been a part of 2016.
Highly charged politics
‘It’s not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse,’ Grathwohl explains.
‘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.’
Most recently Facebook has been slammed for allowing fake news to appear on the social media website.
“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,” Grathwohl explains.
According to research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors, usage of post-truth has increased by approximately 2,000% since 2015.
“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.”
Brexiteer and Coulrophobia
The Word of the Year shortlist also included more headline hitting words of 2016 including, Alt-right, Brexiteer and Hygge.
Coulrophobia, a fear of clowns, was also in the shortlist largely to do with the creepy clown craze which swept across the UK and USA earlier in the year.
Last year’s winner was controversially the “face with tears of joy” emoji and not actually a word.
The 2016 shortlist
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 UK 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
Woke - Originally in African-American usage meaning alert to injustice in society, especially racism