Oxford Dictionaries has announced “post truth” as the word of the year in both the US and UK, reflecting a year in which the Brexit and Trump victories left the establishment bewildered.
An adjective, the word is defined in the 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”.
Oxford Dictionaries further explained: “Generally applied to politics, specifically the US election and the EU Referendum. Taking place in a time when the truth has become an irrelevant concept”, the Telegraph has reported.
First used in relation to the Persian Gulf War twenty four years ago, it has seen a 2,000 percent rise in use in the last year, according to the Oxford English Corpus which each month analyses 150 million spoken and written words from a range of sources.
“What we found especially interesting is that [post-truth] encapsulated a trans-Atlantic phenomenon,” said Katherine Connor Martin, the head of United States dictionaries at Oxford University Press.
“Often, when looking at words, you’ll find one that’s a really big deal in the UK but not in the US.”
The word of the year “reflects the passing year in language”, with a separate word normally chosen for the UK and US.
Last year’s British winner wasn’t a word at all, but the ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji. In 2014, the word “vape” took the title, and in 2012 it was another political word: “omnishambles”.
This year “post truth” beat off competition from “alt-right”, defined as “Extremely conservative movement that rejects mainstream politics and disseminates deliberately provocative content via social media”; “Glass cliff”: “The situation where a woman of member of a minority is appointed to a leadership position when the chance for failure is particularly high.”; and “Hygge”: “Cosy and comfortable, with Danish overtones.”
“Brexiteer”, “Coulrophobia” (the irrational fear of clowns) and “Latinx”, which is a gender neutral term for Latino/Latina, also made the short list.