In the year in which the political landscape has taken over many aspects of our daily lives, the term 'post-truth' has been named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries. The term is defined as an adjective by the dictionary "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief".

In other words, 'post-truth' is what many have seen recent events such as the US election and the EU referendum in the UK to be examples of: circumstances in which key figures have shared emotive reactions and beliefs that cannot always be proven to be true, but have shaped public opinion to the extent of helping those figures to win.

For example, US president-elect Donald Trump has been famed for controversial quotes and ideas throughout his campaign, ignoring objective facts for his own brand of speech and appealing to prejudices.

Word of the year award

The Oxford Dictionaries word of the year award is meant to reflect the year in language, although this year's winner is less controversial than others, such as last year's 'face with tears of joy' emoji. In some years, the UK and US teams of Oxford Dictionaries have chosen different words - such as 'simples' (UK) and 'unfriend' (US) in 2009 - but this year, it is clear that the chosen word was relevant on both sides of the Atlantic. Editors said that the term 'post-truth' had increased in usage by around 2000% in 2016.

The other words on the shortlist show clear relation to 2016, but none quite summarise the alarming direction that Politics has taken this year in the same way. 'Alt-right' and 'Brexiteer' were also on the list, but as terms referring to specific groups of people, are perhaps less reflective of the year than the more general adjective that the publisher chose.

On the other hand, 'hygge' may have been a key word in 2016, denoting a Danish kind of cosiness that has become popular round the globe, but its positive connotations clearly did not seem to reflect 2016 accurately.

The future of 'post-truth'

Though named word of the year for 2016, it is unlikely that 'post-truth' will suddenly disappear in 2017.

Oxford Dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl predicted that 'post-truth' has a good chance of becoming "one of the defining words of our time", due to its sudden spike in usage and how it is not showing any signs of slowing down. As a term referring to a political situation that is set to continue, and connecting to the way in which technology such as Facebook has allowed emotive arguments and beliefs to be shared without a need for objective facts, it seems that, for better or for worse, 'post-truth' will not be a solely 2016 phenomenon.