The Current

Why 'post-truth' wins Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year

There's fiction. And then there's fact. But these days it seems there's a narrowing line between the two. So what's the perfect word to describe that? Oxford Dictionaries thinks the term deserves to be called the word of the year.
In a pre-Trump presidency, Oxford Dictionaries has named 'post-truth' as the international word of the year. (Reuters)

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"Post-truth" has been crowned Oxford Dictionaries' 2016 word of the year.

Head of U.S. Dictionaries at Oxford University Press Katherine Connor Martin tells The Current's guest host Piya Chattopadhyay why post-truth made the top of the list.

"It's really been kind of a universal theme this year in our public discourse."

Martin defines post-truth as an adjective "relating to, or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

For instance, says Martin. "In the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election pundits commented that we may have entered a post proof era."

English writer and broadcaster Robert Robinson holds the first volume of 'A Supplement To The Oxford English Dictionary', March 1977. (Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

According to Martin, the word was originally coined in 1992 but gained prominence this year due to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, along with the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union.

"We saw it in the Brexit referendum in the U.K.," says Martin.

"It was popping up in conversations around that [Brexit] debate. And then we also saw it begin to pop up in discussions around the presidential campaign in the United States, so we were really struck that this was a transatlantic phenomenon."

"Post-truth" had some stiff competition, beating out "alt-right" and "woke."

Listen to the full conversation.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.