Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year Sums up 2016 Perfectly

By November 17, 2016Language, News

Every year, Oxford Dictionaries announced an international word of the year. That is one word that reflects the passing year in language, and the 2016 word is very telling indeed as we seem to be moving into a world where the truth is unimportant indeed.

The 2016 Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year is ‘post-truth’, and dictionary editors say usage of the word has leapt 2,000% in the last twelve months. The first spike in frequency for post-truth was during this year’s EU referendum vote in the UK with another spike reported during the US presidential election campaign.

The spike in usage is notable and reflects world events because post-truth is defined to describe the irrelevance of truth in today’s politics, as in “post-truth politics”. The official definition according to the OED is “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

We’ve seen a year charged by political and social discourse, fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source. Already since the US presidential election we have seen Facebook and Twitter brought to task over false news stories as this year we have seen social media play a huge part in social trends.

It seems we are drowning in information, but starved of wisdom in this modern world and it’s a world that needs new words to reflect the fast changing shifts in morals and ideas.



With such a political and turbulent year, these weren’t the only political words to reach the shortlist. Both the new term ‘alt-right’ to describe a new generation of right wing voters, and ‘Brexiteer‘ to describe a EU out voter were in the running, plus several other words that have captured the craziness that has been 2016. Non political words shortlisted were adulting, chatbot, coulrophobia, glass cliff, hygge, Latinx and woke were also considered for the word of the year.

And that, according to Oxford is the year in linguistics.

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