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What Is Word Of The Year 2023? Hint: Who Is The Real You?

Merriam-Webster has revealed its Word of the Year for 2023. It symbolizes a yearning in society for something real — a genuine connection to voices in a world where the line between realism & artifice is increasingly blurred. Here's what it is.

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Ishika Thanvi
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Merriam-Webster has once again revealed its Word of the Year for 2023. It symbolizes a collective yearning in society for something real and unfiltered — a genuine connection to experiences, voices, and narratives in a world where the line between authenticity and artifice is increasingly blurred. This is how the Word of the Year becomes a compass guiding us back to the heart of truth and the core of human connection.

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The word of the year is 'Authentic'. The year 2023 witnessed a surge in interest surrounding the concept of authenticity, as people grappled with the challenges posed by deep fakes and questioned the veracity of information in the post-truth era. Editor at large Peter Sokolowski noted a "crisis of authenticity," emphasizing that the more we question authenticity, the more we value it.

Authenticity Across Domains

Authentic transcended linguistic boundaries, manifesting itself in various contexts. From authentic cuisine to authentic voices and the pursuit of one's authentic self, the word encapsulated the year's overarching theme. Interestingly, authenticity even found its place in the realm of artifice, highlighting the performative nature of being genuine in a world where reality itself is often questioned.

Influence of Global Events

The choice of authentic wasn't spurred by a single monumental event but rather reflected a consistent, heightened interest throughout the year. The surge in lookups on Merriam-Webster's site mirrored the ongoing dialogue surrounding authenticity.

Authenticity Amidst AI and Leadership Shifts

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As artificial intelligence took centre stage, it was also a year marked by a leadership crisis at OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT. Figures like Elon Musk, Taylor Swift, and Prince Harry actively pursued authenticity in their words and actions. Musk, during the World Government Summit in Dubai, urged leaders to "speak authentically" on social media, underlining the significance of genuine communication in the digital age.

Diverse Runners-Up

Merriam-Webster's list of runners-up for Word of the Year offers a glimpse into the diverse linguistic landscape of 2023. From RIZZ (meaning romantic appeal or charm) to KIBBUTZ (spiking after the Hamas-Gaza Conflict), each word tells a unique story tied to global events and cultural shifts.

In the lineup of Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year runners-up for 2023, several notable contenders emerged including IMPLODE experienced a spike in interest following the June 18 implosion of the Titan submersible during a Titanic wreckage exploration, signifying the process of bursting inward. DEADNAME drew attention amidst legislative actions targeting LGBTQ+ rights, referring to the name assigned to a transgender person at birth but no longer used after transitioning. DOPPELGANGER, a word lover's delight, saw heightened interest linked to Naomi Klein's book, exploring the concept of a double or alter ego.

The coronation of King Charles III on May 6 propelled searches for the term CORONATION, defined as the act or occasion of crowning, to a staggering 15,681% increase. DEEPFAKE surged in interest following revelations in a Tesla lawsuit involving Elon Musk and the appearance of Ryan Reynolds in a fabricated AI-generated Tesla ad. The term DYSTOPIAN garnered attention amid climate chaos and entertainment media, showcasing its versatility in both serious and imaginative contexts. Lastly, COVENANT experienced a surge in searches on March 27 after a tragic mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, involving a former student who killed three students and three adults. The word refers to a formal, solemn, and binding agreement.

Looking Ahead

Authentic follows the 2022 choice of gaslighting, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of Merriam-Webster selecting a top word. The company's commitment to capturing the pulse of language is evident in its approach, filtering out evergreen words and adapting to the evolving ways people engage with language, such as the exclusion of five-letter words due to their popularity in online games.

In a world where trust in information is constantly tested, the resonance of authentic as the Word of the Year speaks to a collective desire for truth and genuine connections amidst the noise of the digital age. As we reflect on the linguistic highlights of 2023, one word stands out, encapsulating the essence of a year defined by the pursuit of authenticity and being true to ourselves.

Merriam Webster King Charles coronation Deepfake Video Word of the year Authentic Rizz
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