Each year, Oxford (as well as other dictionary sources) Dictionary releases its word of the year. The word of the year is a “word or expression chosen to reflect the passing year in language.” It’s a competitive field, with Oxford experts reviewing, evaluating and debating any number of potential candidates before making its final choice. This year the winner was “post-truth,” whose usage, according to Oxford, spiked 2000% from 2015 to 2016. This leap was primarily in reference to Brexit in the U.K. and the presidential election here in the U.S., with a specific association to the phrase “post-truth politics.” The Oxford classifies “post-truth” as an adjective and defines it as follows:
“Relating to or denoting circumstances in which object facts are less influential in shaping public opinion that appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
This is a bit of a shift from 2015’s more whimsical choice of an emoji perhaps reflecting a year filled with significant world events?
Other short-list words for 2016 provide a veritable vocabulary tour of the year in retrospect, from political to cultural to business:
Adulting – The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.
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.
Brexiteer – A person who is in favour of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union.
Chatbot – A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet.
Coulrophobia – Extreme or irrational fear of clowns.
Glass cliff – Used with reference to a situation in which a woman or member of a minority group ascends to a leadership position in challenging circumstances where the risk of failure is high.
Hygge – A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
Latinx – A person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina).
Woke – Alert to injustice in society, especially racism.
As can be seen, a single word can truly capture an ethos and evoke strong feelings or connections to a brand.