Dictionary.com picked its 2016 word of the year: xenophobia.
When making the decision for the word of the year, Dictionary.com said a word is chosen if it “embodies a major theme resonating deeply in the cultural consciousness over the prior 12 months."
The word "xenophobia" only entered the English language in the late 1800s. It is rooted in Greek - xénos meaning “stranger, guest,” and phóbos meaning “fear, panic.”
The word was often searched in April 2015, and Dictionary.com mainly attributes the spike “to attacks on foreign workers and overall rising xenophobia in South Africa.”
June 24 saw a 938 percent increase – hundreds of Dictionary.com users searching for "xenophobia" every hour – the day after the Brexit vote. The term “hate crimes” was also highly searched as hate crimes increased 41 percent the month after the EU referendum.
The second largest surge occurred during the 2016 presidential race, according to Dictionary.com.
“On June 29, President Obama gave a speech in which he expressed concern over the use of the term populism to describe Donald Trump’s political rhetoric,” according to the website. “Obama insisted that this was not an example of populism, but of ‘nativism or xenophobia.’”
"Populism" also enjoyed a peak on June 30 – the highest rate of search for that word.
Professor of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich gives his thoughts in the video below.
We're still waiting to see what choices are made by Merriam-Webster and the American Dialect Society, a group of language experts that started the tradition in 1990.