The Cable

And Oxford’s Word of the Year Award Goes to…“Post-truth”

Should anyone be surprised?


Oxford Dictionaries annually picks a ‘word of the year’ to capture the cultural zeitgeist of the past twelve months. And on Wednesday, Oxford officially announced 2016’s prize goes to “post-truth,” which, for anyone following minor events like the U.S. presidential elections or the Brexit debacle, may not come as a surprise.

“Post-truth has gone from being a peripheral term to being a mainstay in political commentary,” Oxford wrote in a post announcing its decision. Oxford defines its newly-awarded word as one “‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Sound familiar?

Post-truth beat out a few other frontrunners in the lexical competition, including “alt-right,” “Brexiteer,” “woke,” and “adulting.”

But Foreign Policy thinks Oxford overlooked a few potential prize contenders. So we humbly put forward our own words that deserve honorary mention:

Duterte’d: verb. To turn down an invitation to meet after the meeting host insults you in a press conference.

Swatch: noun. A small sample of fabrics, or a 1980s wristwatch fad. Or, apparently to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, some unspecified territory in Syria. We would have said “swath.”

Sarcasm: noun. A Western imperialist rhetorical weapon meant to subvert and ultimately destroy glorious leader of the proletariats Kim Jong-un.

Water: noun. The Brazilian government’s official term for a sewage-like substance found off the shores of Olympic host cities.

Poodle: noun. The highest-ranked breed of dog in Thailand’s military.

Bigly: adjective. …We’re still not sure.

Blatter-ing: verb. The act of telling everyone how to fix a tarnished international institution…after tarnishing said institution.

Diego: verb. The act of single-handedly saving one’s species from extinction with a lot of, um, friends with benefits.

Poem: noun. A politically-charged composition of verse that could prompt lawsuits from Turkey’s president. See also entry for: Gollum.

Czechia: noun. An instance in which one tries to make a catchy new phrase go viral, and it just really doesn’t work.

Mountain: noun. An extravagant gift, typically given by close friends on important birthdays or anniversaries.

Yelp: noun. An online platform for citizens to voice their thoughts on international diplomacy.

Africa: noun. A country, according to Britain’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

2016-ing: verb. To feel intense stress and helplessness as you watch everything inexplicably go horribly, horribly wrong around you.

Photo credit: FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Robbie Gramer is a staff writer at Foreign Policy@RobbieGramer

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