'Post-truth' named Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year

'Post-truth' named Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year

"Post-truth" has been declared 2016's international word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.

Oxford Dictionaries arrived at the decision, aiming to choose a word or phrase that "reflects the passing the year in language", after its editors' research showed usage of the word leapt 2,000% in the last year.

It noted the spike in frequency in the context of this year's EU referendum in the UK and presidential election in the US, which has seen the word used to describe the irrelevance of truth in today's politics, as in "post-truth politics".

Its official definition, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is: "Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, said "post-truth" could become "one of the defining words of our time".

"It’s not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse," he 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."

Grathwohl added: "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."

Other political words on the 2016 shortlist for word of the year included "alt-right" - shortened from alternative right, its usage surged 30% in August - and "Brexiteer".

Remaining contenders were "adulting", "chatbot", "coulrophobia", "glass cliff", "hygge", "Latinx", and "woke". 

The pervasiveness this year of books on Hygge, the danish lifestyle philosophy centred on the concept of cosiness, sparked a spoof publication from Hodder & Stoughton, Say Ja to Hygge! by Dr Magnus Olsensen, which publishes on Thursday (17th November).