‘Post-truth’ is Oxford Dictionaries’ word of 2016. In January 2017, Oxford Dictionaries, after much discussion, debate and research, announced that ‘post-truth’ was the word of the year for 2016.
The phrase is an adjective that defines a situation as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.
The phrase, which is used tongue-in-cheek, describes a situation in which objective facts are overlooked and ignored in favour of populist opinions and unfounded beliefs. ‘I believe, therefore I am right’ basically replaces ‘I think, therefore I am’.
According to Oxford Dictionaries: ‘The concept of post-truth has been in existence for the past decade, but we have seen a spike in frequency in 2016, in the context of the EU referendum in the UK and the presidential election in the United States. It has also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase post-truth politics’.
Other words which made the shortlist included ‘Brexiteer’ — someone who supported the UK’s departure from the European Union — and ‘coulrophobia’, the irrational fear of clowns, referring to the spate of ‘scary clown’ sightings across the UK in 2016.