Brexit and Donald Trump prompt Oxford Dictionaries to crown "post-truth" the international word of the year

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Trump and Brexit were key prompts for the 2016 word of the year (Source: Getty)

If you thought you could escape Brexit and the shock rise of Donald Trump when it came to the 2016 word of the year, we have some bad news for you. 

After a "highly charged" 12 months, Oxford Dictionaries has named "post-truth" as its 2016 international word of the year (though maybe it should be the words of the year).

Although its earliest known use seems to have been in a 1992 essay in The Nation magazine, Oxford Dictionaries' editors said use of the term increased by 2,000 per cent in 2016 compared to last year. This was in the context, it said, "of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States".

Read more: How well do you know the dictionary's new finance terms?

"Post-truth" is defined by the dictionary 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". 

It has also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase "post-truth politics".

Oxford Dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl said: 

We first saw the frequency really spike this year in June with buzz over the Brexit vote and Donald Trump securing 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.

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.

Although the publisher's UK and US dictionary teams sometimes choose different words, this year linguaphiles on both sides of the pond opted for the same word. 

Read more: Binge-watch, listicle and vape added to dictionary

Brexiteer was another contender for this year's wordy crown, as were "Alt-right", "hygge", the Danish word that encapsulates the feeling of cosiness, and coulrophobia, the fear of clowns

The word of the year is "a word or expression chosen to reflect the passing year in language". Last year's word was the "face with tears of joy" emoji (see below...).

The last 10 years in words

Year Word(s)
2016 Post-truth
2015 "Tears of joy" emoji
2014 Vape
2013 Selfie
2012 Omnishambles and Gif
2011 Squeezed middle
2010 Big society and Refudiate
2009 Simples and Unfriend
2008 Credit crunch and Hypermiling
2007 Carbon footprint and Locovore