Between Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, this year has been filled with so many racist and Islamaphobic incidents that Dictionary.com has dubbed “xenophobia” 2016’s Word of the Year.
“This year, some of the most prominent news stories have centered around fear of the “other.” Because our users’ interest in this theme emerges so starkly for one word in our lookup data, xenophobia is Dictionary.com’s 2016 Word of the Year.”
Following police violence against BIPOC, the Syrian crisis, ISIS, Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump and anti-trans violence, the website saw a spike in searches for the word “xenophobia.”
Dictionary.com defines “xenophobia as the “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures or strangers.” And it plans to expand its entry to include fear or dislike of “customs, dress and cultures of people with backgrounds different from our own,” Jane Solomon, a lexicographer for the site, said in a recent interview.
The word is relatively new; it entered academia in the late 1800s at the beginning of the industrial revolution, in which worlds were being connected by railroads and commerce. Its roots are in two Greek words — “xenos,” meaning “stranger or guest,” and “phobos,” meaning “fear or panic.” In a world connected by the internet, joining both fact and opinions which are often blurred as one another, the word is more relevant than ever.
Searches for the word increased by 938 percent from June 22 to June 24, after the Brexit vote for Britain to leave the European Union. The following month, the searches spiked after President Barack Obama’s June 29 speech in which he insisted that Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric was not a measure of “populism,” but rather “nativism, or xenophobia or worse.”
“I don’t think most people even know what xenophobia is,” said Reich, who teaches public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, in an interview. Reich served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was President Clinton’s labor secretary. “It’s a word not to be celebrated but to be deeply concerned about.”
The Oxford Dictionary chose “post-truth” as their word of the year. Let that one sink in.
“I wish,” Solomon said, “we could have chosen a word like unicorns.”
Us, too, Solomon. Us, too.
via Hollywood Reporter.