After Brexit and the US election, Oxford Dictionaries declares “post-truth” word of the year



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 has declared “post-truth” its word of the year, citing a 2,000% increase in usage in 2016 following Brexit and the US presidential election.

“Post-truth” is commonly used by media and political pundits when describing “post-truth politics,” or political campaigns that appeal to voters’ emotions and are often disconnected from facts. The term appeared in the title of a number of op-eds this year, including the New York Times’ “The age of post-truth politics,” the Washington Post’s “Why the post-truth political era might be around for a while,” and The Guardian’s “Post-truth politicians such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are no joke.

“It’s not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly charged political and social discourse,” says Oxford Dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl. “Fueled 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.”

Post-truth politics” has had its own Wikipedia page since July, but “post-truth” dates back even further: The term was coined by a playwright in 1992. It was added to this month.

“Post-truth” beat out word of the year contenders that included “alt-right,” referring to extreme conservative views held by white nationalists; “Brexiteer,” a Brexit proponent; and “adulting,” or “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.”

The choice of “post-truth” over “adulting” is telling.

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