In what is perhaps a sad sign of the times, Oxford Dictionaries has declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international word of the year.
Last year we were showered with “emoji”, the year before it was “selfie”, and now in 2016, a year when the authenticity of everything from social media posts to respected news websites has been questioned, the relevance of truth itself has even come under scrutiny.
Defined as, “an adjective relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals” the word has been closely associated with political arguments and has been linked with seismic events such as Brexit and the election of President Trump.
Casper Grathwohl, President of Oxford Dictionaries said in a statement: “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 went on to say, “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.”
The word is thought to have first been used in 1992 in an essay by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in The Nation magazine. Oxford Dictionaries have also stated that they saw a 2000% spike in usage of the word after the political events mentioned.
Other words that made it onto the list were the Scandinavian relaxing trend “Hygge”, the ideological group “Alt-right”, and of course the fear of clowns, “Coulrophobia.”