Post-truth, a concept that came to prominence during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has been named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, which said it could be “one of the defining words of our time.”
The term, as Oxford defines it, means “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 officials chose post-truth because they said use of the term surged 2,000 percent in 2016. They added that it was not only used in relation to the grueling presidential campaign.
If you plan to use the word, Oxford classifies is as an adjective, as in “post-truth politics.”
“Post-truth has gone from being a peripheral term to being a mainstay in political commentary, now often being used by major publications without the need for clarification or definition in their headlines,” the company said in a statement.
Other words vying for the title included “Brexiteer,” referring to someone who supported Britain’s exit from the European Union; “alt-right,” which refers to a group of right-wing conservatives who have been vocal online. “Adulting,” the practice of acting like an adult, was also considered.
The selection of post-truth comes 10 years after “truthiness” was chosen as word of the year. That word was coined by entertainer Stephen Colbert, referring to the narrative presented by then-President George W. Bush regarding the reasons for invading Iraq in 2003.
“Truthiness is a humorous way of discussing a quality of specific claims. Post-truth is an adjective that is describing a much bigger thing,” according to Katherine Connor Martin, the head of United States dictionaries at Oxford University Press, in an interview with The New York Times. “It’s saying that the truth is being regarded as mostly irrelevant.”
According to competing dictionary Merriam-Webster, the most searched words following the election of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump were fascism, bigot, xenophobe, racism, socialism, resurgence, xenophobia and misogyny.