Merriam-Webster has declared “surreal” as the Word of the Year. Many unbelievable events have happened this year that pushed people to use the word multiple times.
Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster stated that “surreal” has been used several times in different stories this year. Many people were encouraged to search for the meaning of the word.
“Spikes of interest in a word are usually triggered by a single event, so what’s truly remarkable this year about surreal is that so many different stories led people to look it up. Historically, surreal has been one of the words most searched after tragedy, most notably in the days following 9/11, but it was associated with a wide variety of stories this year,” Sokolowski said as per USA Today.
In terms of volume of lookups and a significant year-over-year increase in lookups, the word “surreal” qualifies to be labelled as the Word of the Year.
The word was widely used during the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Nice. When Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential race, the volume of usage and searches for the meaning of “surreal” increased.
The aforementioned events were quite unbelievable to many. People used the word “surreal” to state that the happenings are beyond reality and that they don’t want to believe it.
Meanwhile, there are four different Word of the Year selections every year. The American Dialect Society will announce its Word of the Year in January. Oxford already chose “post-truth” while Dictionary.com picked the word “xenophobia.”