Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year Highlights a Major Problem

November 15th 2016

Tricia Tongco

On Tuesday, “post-truth” was named 2016’s “Word of the Year” by Oxford Dictionaries, beating out other contenders such as “alt-right,” “adulting,” and “woke.”

The adjective is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

In an online statement, Oxford Dictionaries explains the word was chosen for the increase in its usage this year as part of the phrase “post-truth politics,” oft-deployed in the context of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States.

One of the major contributing factors to the rise of post-truth politics has been the rise of fake news websites and "segregated social universes," according to Joshua Benton of the Nieman Lab, a group devoted to exploring the future of journalism. "American political discourse in 2016 seemed to be running on two self-contained, never-overlapping sets of information. It took the Venn diagram finally meeting at the ballot box to make it clear how separate the two solitudes really are."

[h/t The Guardian]