Goodbye 2018: Top Dictionaries Choose Words of the Year

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Popular online dictionaries are saying goodbye to 2018 with some choice words: toxic, misinformation, and justice. These are some of the most looked-up words this year.

Oxford’s Word of the Year: Toxic

Definition: Poisonous.

Every year, the people behind Oxford dictionaries choose a word or expression that best reflects “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.”

 There was a 45 percent rise in the number of times the word toxic has been looked up. “Over the last year the word toxic has been used in an array of contexts, both in its literal and more metaphorical senses,” according to Oxford.

Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year: Misinformation

Definition: False information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.

Dictionary.com chose misinformation for its relevance. “The rampant misinformation poses new challenges for navigating life in 2018. As a dictionary, we believe understanding the concept is vital to identifying misinformation in the wild, and ultimately curbing its impact,” said the dictionary’s editors.

Take note that misinformation is often conflated with disinformation. “However, the two are not interchangeable. Disinformation means ‘deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda,’” the editors added.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year: Justice

Definition: The maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.

The word justice was a top lookup throughout the year at Merriam-Webster.com, with the entry being consulted 74 percent more than in 2017. “The concept of justice was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice. In any conversation about these topics, the question of just what exactly we mean when we use the term justice is relevant, and part of the discussion,” said the dictionary’s editors.

Political developments that made the word justice relevant in 2018 include the Mueller investigation and the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court.

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