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Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is “authentic,” a quality that celebrities like Taylor Swift aspire to.
As the crucial issue of truth and facts continues to dominate the news, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is “authentic.”
The online dictionary says there has been a high volume of searches for the definition of the word for several years, but 2023 saw a “substantial increase”, thanks to “stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture , identity and social media.
The reason so many people search for it is that “authentic” has several meanings, according to the announcement on the dictionary website, including “not fake or imitation” and “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” .
Synonymous with real and actual, authentic is “clearly a desirable quality,” according to Merriam-Webster, and is often associated with expressions of identity, such as cooking.
The dictionary says it’s also a term favored by celebrities like singers Lainey Wilson, Sam Smith and Taylor Swift, all of whom have made headlines this year with statements about finding their “authentic voice” and their “authentic self”.
Another fan is Elon Musk, who once said that people should be more “authentic” on social media. However, this became even more problematic earlier this year when Musk, as Twitter’s new boss, now X, got rid of the blue check sign of authenticity – now only available at a price.
The rise of artificial intelligence has blurred the lines between what is real and what is not, leaving celebrities, brands and social media influencers – among others – eager to prove their authenticity.
One of the other words that stood out in searches this year, according to the dictionary, was the closely related “deepfake.”
This is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to create a false impression of someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.”
There was a particular spike in searches for the term in April and early May, the dictionary says, when Musk’s lawyers argued that he should not have to legally testify about public statements he had made. made, because some of them could be deepfakes. The argument was rejected. One of the year’s most notable news stories surrounding deepfake images was one that appeared to show former President Donald Trump being dramatically arrested by police in March.
In 2022, Merriam-Webster chose “gaslighting” as its word of the year, saying it had become a ubiquitous term in the “age of misinformation.”
Other words that generated a lot of traffic to the online dictionary in 2023 include coronation, dystopian, indictment and doppelgänger.
Meanwhile, “rizz” went straight to the “top searches” in September, when the Internet slang example was added to the dictionary.
For the uninitiated, Merriam-Webster explained: “As a noun, rizz means “romantic appeal or charm” (as in “a brother who has rizz”); as a verb (usually used with up, as in “rizz up that cutie”), it means “to charm or seduce.”
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