This was the year of artificial intelligence, deepfakes and post-truth causing us to whether what we see and read is “authentic”
That’s why, “Authentic” emerged as the Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2023.
When the Word of the Year started in 2003, Merriam-Webster determined which words would appear on the list based on the online hits to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and Online Thesaurus and Merriam-WebsterCollegiate.com. In 2006 and 2007, they changed this practice, and the list was determined by an online poll among words that were suggested by visitors to the site. From 2008 onwards, however, user submissions have not been a deciding factor, and the list has been composed only of the words which were looked up most frequently that year.
This year, America’s oldest dictionary noted a significant upswing in online searches for authentic throughout the year. This heightened interest was fueled by discussions and stories revolving around artificial intelligence, celebrity culture, identity, and the dynamics of social media.
Another reason people searched for the word is that it has a number of meanings, including “not false or imitation” and also “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character”.
Brands, social media influencers and celebrities also popularized the word. At February’s World Government Summit in Dubai, Elon Musk urged the heads of companies, politicians, ministers and other leaders to “speak authentically” on social media by running their own accounts.
Other top words from 2023 include the internet slang “rizz,” short for charisma, meaning romantic appeal or charm. Another contender, “indict,” experienced a surge in interest following the indictment of former President Donald Trump in four separate legal cases.
British influence also made its mark on the top words, with “coronation” experiencing a surge in searches after Charles III was crowned the new king in May.
The year 2023 marks Merriam-Webster’s 20th anniversary of selecting a top word.
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