Merriam-Webster Announces “Authentic” as the 2023 Word of the Year
SPRINGFIELD, MASS. November 27, 2023 —Today Merriam-Webster announced its Word of the Year: authentic, the term for something people are thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more than ever. A high-volume lookup most years, authentic saw a substantial increase in 2023, driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media. Authentic has a number of meanings including “not false or imitation,” a synonym of real and actual; and also “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” Although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate—two reasons it sends many people to the dictionary.
“The rise of AI helped drive interest in the word,” says Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s Editor at Large. “The line between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ has become increasingly blurred. As a result, in social media and marketing, authentic has become the gold standard for building trust—and authenticity, ironically, has become a performance.”
Other words also stood out in the dictionary’s 2023 data, including: - Deepfake saw a spike in April, when Tesla lawyers claimed Elon Musk’s past statements on self-driving safety could have been faked, and again in May and June with fake ads depicting celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and Donald Trump - Dystopian, first on Earth Day amidst record-high temperatures, and later in the year surrounding AI regulation - Coronation in May, when Charles III was crowned - Rizz, an example of internet-driven slang, shot to the top of lookups when it was added to the dictionary in September - X in July, when Twitter rebranded and people were trying to understand the new name “As always,” adds Sokolowski, “our top lookups offer a window into the world—revealing experiences and ideas that shaped the year.”
Get more detail on all the 2023 Words of the Year About Merriam-Webster Inc. For over 180 years, Merriam-Webster has been America’s leading provider of language information. Each month, our award-winning websites, apps, and social media channels offer guidance to tens of millions of visitors. In print, our publications include Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary (among the best-selling books in American history) and books for students of all ages and abilities. All Merriam-Webster products and services are backed by the largest team of dictionary editors and writers in America.
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