"Post-Truth" Named Oxford Dictionaries Word of Year Amid 2016 Political Climate

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Donald Trump

Defined as a time when truth has become irrelevant.

Oxford Dictionary editors have chosen their 2016 international word of the year: "post-truth," a term that saw a massive spike after Brexit and Donald Trump's nomination as the Republican candidate for president. 

Oxford Dictionaries announced Wednesday that use of the term rose 2,000 percent between 2015 and 2016, specifically in discussions of Britain's decision to leave the European Union and the campaign of President-elect Trump.

The full definition reads: "Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

It's often used in the phrase "post-truth politics" and is defined as belonging to a time in which truth has become irrelevant. In this instance, the prefix "post," takes on a different meaning, rather than simply referring to the time after a specified situation or event, says the dictionary.

"It’s not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse," said Oxford Dictionaries President Casper Grathwohl. "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."

He continued, "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. 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."

Each year, Oxford University Press picks a word that reflects the mood of the year. Runners-up for 2016 include "Brexiteer," an advocate of the UK leaving the EU; the extreme conservative movement known as the "alt-right"; and "hygge," the Danish concept of domestic coziness.

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