The most popular and relevant word of 2016 is “post-truth” thanks to a huge spike around the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s successful US presidential bid. The adjective, which describes circumstances where emotions win over facts and reason, rocketed in use by around 2,000% since last year, the Oxford Dictionary said. Whatever your thoughts, at least this year it’s actually a word, after last year’s hotly debated first place “face with tears of joy” emoji. The golden word shortlist for this year included: brexiteer, chatbot and alt-right. Oxford dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl said the choice reflected a year “dominated by highly charged political and social discourse”. He added: “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.”
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.
Casper Grathwohl, Oxford dictionaries president
The dictionary defines “post-truth” as: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Its earliest usage came in a 1992 essay on the Gulf War by playwright Steve Tesich. Grathwohl added: “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.”