Dictionary.com announces 2018's Word of the Year
And you may have been defining it wrong
In the past couple years, Dictionary.com has been taking a closer look at trends in our lexicon and selecting words that are significant to the cultural and political climate of the year. In 2016, its word of the year was "xenophobia," and the following year's was "complicit." This year's word is: "misinformation."
"As a dictionary, we believe understanding the concept is vital to identifying misinformation in the wild, and ultimately curbing its impact," their website reads.
In the era of "fake news," words are more important—and more unstable—than ever, and the dictionary is determined to clear up the meaning of "misinformation," which they define as "false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead."
Misinformation is often conflated with "disinformation," but the important difference is that disinformation entails "deliberately misleading or biased information"—it's all in the intent.
The dictionary has also been busy defining words and updating terms "related to the evolving understanding of misinformation," including words like "echo chamber," "confirmation bias," "filter bubble," "conspiracy theory," "fake news," "post-fact," "post-truth," "homophily," "influencer," and "gatekeeper."
The rise of social media has completely changed how information is shared, and fact-checking has taken a backseat to the dissemination of content. Educating yourself on misinformation is a good way to learn how to better identify it when you see it, and hopefully the term's popularity will spark demand for more truthful reporting.
Other terms considered for Word of the Year include "representation," "self-made," and "backlash." What a time to be alive!
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