"Post-truth" is Oxford Dictionaries' official word of 2016


Here's capping off a crappy 2016: Oxford Dictionaries has declared "post-truth" the official word of the year, commemorating upset triumphs for the U.K.'s Brexit referendum and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the U.S.

Oxford defined "post-truth" as an adjective meaning "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." It also cited a 2,000% rise in use of the word "in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States."

In other words, it's basically a proto-Newspeak, the artificial language employed by the totalitarian regime of George Orwell's 1984 to artificially shape discourse and purge inconvenient information from the public record. (While Orwell's Newspeak could only be imposed by force, the new Newspeak would appear to be something we've picked up on our own.)

Like Newspeak, "post-truth" could be loosely described as looking at these tweets and experiencing no cognitive dissonance.


"It's not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly charged political and social discourse," Oxford Dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl said in the press release. "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."

November 15, 2016 at 6:52 p.m. Eastern: This article has been updated.