In another blow to the dismally declining popularity of 2016, Dictionary.com has announced that “xenophobia” is the 2016 Word of the Year.
“At Dictionary.com we aim to pick a Word of the Year that embodies a major theme resonating deeply in the cultural consciousness over the prior twelve months,” reads out a news release from the site. “This year, some of the most prominent news stories have centered around fear of the ‘other’….this particular year saw fear rise to the surface of cultural discourse.”
According to the site, xenophobia is a relatively new word to the English language, only having been developed in the late 1800s. It’s defined by Dictionary.com as a “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers.”
Data pulled from its website shows that a strong surge of people looking up the term occurred on June 24—a 938% increase over normal rates. This steep increase happened at a timely world event; just one day after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.
“Despite being chosen as the 2016 Word of the Year, xenophobia is not to be celebrated,” writes Dictionary.com. “Rather it’s a word to reflect upon deeply in light of the events of the recent past.”
Previous Words of the Year have included identity (2015), exposure (2014) and privacy (2013).