Dictionary.com's word of the year is 'xenophobia'

Publish Date
Tuesday, 29 November 2016, 9:28AM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Dictionary.com's word of the year is "xenophobia."

Don't know what it means? Here is the definition: "fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers"

It's clear that in 2016, fear of "otherness" bruised the collective consciousness around the globe.

"The Brexit vote, police violence against people of color, Syria's refugee crisis, transsexual rights and the U.S. presidential race were among prominent developments that drove debate and spikes in lookups of the word" said Jane Solomon, one of the dictionary site's lexicographers.

The word didn't enter the English language until the late 1800s, she said. Its roots are in two Greek words " "xenos," meaning "stranger or guest," and "phobos," meaning "fear or panic," Solomon added.

Searches for xenophobia on the site spiked after President Obama's June 29 speech in which he insisted that Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric was not a measure of "populism," but rather "nativism, or xenophobia, or worse."

"It has been significant throughout the year," Solomon said. "But after the EU referendum, hundreds and hundreds of users were looking up the term every hour."

Oxford dictionary's word of the year, "post-truth", has only added to the mournful tone of 2016. "Post-truth" is often described in terms of politics as belonging to a time in which truth has become irrelevant.

"I wish," Solomon said, "we could have chosen a word like unicorns."