Dictionary.com has named its 2018 Word of the Year, and once more, the choice speaks rather sharply to the current political climate.
The website announced “misinformation” as the winner, defining the word as, “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.” The news comes on the heels of the Oxford Dictionary offering up its own annual choice: “Toxic.”
“The rampant spread of misinformation is really providing new challenges for navigating life in 2018,” Dictionary linguist-in-residence Jane Solomon told The Associated Press. “Misinformation has been around for a long time, but over the last decade or so the rise of social media has really, really changed how information is shared. We believe that understanding the concept of misinformation is vital to identifying misinformation as we encounter it in the wild, and that could ultimately help curb its impact.”
In overall search trends on the website, Solomon added, “Our relationship with truth is something that came up again and again.” The website also intently made the choice against “disinformation,” favoring what The Associated Press quotes as a “call to action” which reflects, in a phrase popularized in 2016 by Michelle Obama, “[going] high when others have spent much of 2018 going low.”
Major runner-ups include “mainstream,” which spiked in January as right-wing media began more aggressively, derisively using the term “mainstream media,” and “representation,” which the AP attributes to the popularity of films like Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther.
And no, this isn’t the first time Dictionary.com chose a politically relevant word for the honor. Last year, the website memorably chose “complicit.”