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

Dictionary.com’s word of the year is “xenophobia,” a nod to increasing fears of “otherness” around the world.

The Brexit vote, Syria’s refugee crisis, the U.S. presidential election and police shootings, drove spikes in the number of users looking up the meaning of “xenophobia" in 2016, Dictionary.com said in a statement.

Xenophobia, which means a “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers," has roots in two Greek words — xénos or “stranger,” and phóbos, which means “fear, panic,” according to the site.

The largest hike in lookups for xenophobia came on June 24, the day after the United Kingdom voted to the leave the European Union.

Days later, on June 29, lookups surged again on the site after President Obama said Donald Trump’s political rhetoric was an example of “nativism or  xenophobia.”

The "Word of the Year" is chosen based on search data and is meant to embody major themes in the collective cultural consciousness.

The interest in xenophobia reflects the worldwide interested in the "unfortunate rise of fear of otherness in 2016,"  Liz McMillan, CEO of Dictionary.com, said in a statement.

"While we can never know the exact reasons why xenophobia trended in our lookups this year, this reflects a desire in our users to understand the significant discourse surrounding global events," McMillan said in a statement.

The Dictionary.com pick comes on the heels of Oxford Dictionaries word of the year “post-truth,” which is defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Follow Mary Bowerman on Twitter: @MaryBowerman.

Copyright 2016 KING


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