Every year, Oxford Dictionary picks one word to set above all others as the official Word of the Year. It’s often a new addition to our lexicon, or one “that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations” of the past year.
Last year, if you remember, the Word of the Year was not a word at all, but the tears of joy emoji: 😂 . If you thought that was a low point for the English language and the ideas and general world ways it represents, oh boy were we wrong. Because we now have a much bleaker ethos, mood, and preoccupation.
What defines our current world? Post-truth. Meaning, truth is a thing of the past. With both Brexit and Trump having taken over our Western world, almost entirely thanks to people investing in fake news, perception over fact, and emotion over anything else.
The concept of post-truth has been in existence for the past decade, but Oxford Dictionaries has seen a spike in frequency this year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States. It has also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase post-truth politics.
The shortlist of words that didn’t make the #1 cut isn’t that much more encouraging. A few, like Latinx and woke, are pretty cool as contenders for identifying where our attentions laid this year, but the rest (maybe especially ‘alt-right’ and the usually trollish ‘chatbot’) are awful reminders of what a shit year this has been.
Click to embiggen, if you dare.