You can fact check this story all you want. Nobody cares. We are officially living in the post-truth era. Which is perhaps why Oxford’s Word of the Year for 2016 seems fitting. Post-truth.
In selecting the Word of the Year, the editors at Oxford try to choose a phrase that reflects the year in language. To explain how recent events led to this year’s choice, the Oxford editors wrote, “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 [Brexit] in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States [Trump]. It has also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase post-truth politics.”
Oxford defines post-truth as being an adjective meaning:
- Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
Other words on the short-list for International Word of the Year included coulrophobia (an
extreme or irrational fear of clowns), adulting (informal the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks), chatbot (a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet), and 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.)
Strangely absent from the list would be the word that in my professional opinion as a writer and editor best sums up the mood and spirit of 2016 thus far. The poop emoji.
Anyway, they didn’t ask us at Yackler. Here is the complete shortlist for International Word of the Year for 2016 from the folks at Oxford.