Dictionary.com’s word of the year is ‘Xenophobia’
With its 2016 word of the year, Dictionary.com has landed on one word to summarize the general mood of much of the world this year: “xenophobia,” the “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers.”
The dictionary explained its decision:
This year, some of the most prominent news stories have centered around fear of the “other.” Fear is an adaptive part of human evolutionary history and often influences behaviors and perceptions on a subconscious level. However, this particular year saw fear rise to the surface of cultural discourse. Because our users’ interest in this overarching theme emerges so starkly for one specific word in our trending lookup data, xenophobia is Dictionary.com’s 2016 Word of the Year.
The context here is Donald Trump’s election and Brexit, the UK’s vote to pull out of the European Union.
As Zack Beauchamp explained for Vox, both of these massive political events were driven by anti-immigrant sentiment and racist attitudes. Surveys have found, for example, that support for Brexit, Trump, and other far-right politicians closely correlated with support for stricter immigration policies and higher levels of racial resentment.