“Post-truth” has been named as Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year after a spike in its use around the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential bid.
Usage of the adjective, which describes circumstances where emotions and personal beliefs are more influential than facts, increased by around 2,000 per cent since last year, the dictionary’s research showed.
The word has been in existence for more than two decades but a rise in its demand coincided with the EU referendum and the US presidential race, Oxford Dictionaries has announced.
Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, said: “It’s not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse.
“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.”
Post-truth was chosen from a shortlist that included “Brexiteer”, or a supporter of the UK’s EU exit, and “hygge”, which is a cosiness associated with contentment in Danish culture.
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 with this meaning was in a 1992 essay by playwright Steve Tesich in The Nation magazine, according to Oxford Dictionaries.
Mr 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.”
Previous winners include “omnishambles” in 2012, “big society” in 2010 and last year’s hotly-debated “face with tears of joy” emoji.