Merriam-Webster, a company that is well-known for its series of dictionaries, chose “Surreal” as the word of the year 2016. According to the company, “Surreal” is the most popular word of this year with 1% of all the lookups.
Why is “surreal” the word of the year? Well, it is all based on two simple things. Merriam-webster selected the word because of the significant increase in lookups the word had during the year, and the increase the word has had year after year during the last years.
According to Merriam-Webster, surreal is something marked by the intense, irrational reality of a dream. Many people would agree the word perfectly describes a year full of changes. However, it might be a warm up for what is coming in 2017.
Why is the definition of surreal such a popular query?
Peter Sokolowski, the editor for Merriam-Webster, told Yahoo News the frequency in which people looks for the meaning of a word rarely changes. However, 2016 has been full of events that can be correctly described with this adjective.
Many factors can make people want to know the definition of a word. According to Merriam-Webster’s data, there were spikes in lookups for “surreal” right after news outlets used it.
For example, people started looking for the definition of surreal after the terrorist attack in Brussels in March. The same thing happened by the time of the failed coup attempt in Turkey and the terrorist attack in Nice.
Brexit and the US presidential election might have something to do with it
On June 24, the whole world was in shock because, against al the odds, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The Infamous Brexit was proposed by the former Prime Minister David Cameron, and championed by the current Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
The campaign that led to the “Withdrawal referendum” was rowdy, and when the process ended, the British people started to realize what just had happened.
The U.K is already facing the consequences of leaving the EU as the organization is set to make an example out of the British country. Brexit also marked the beginning of a shift of power in the whole hemisphere.
After the U.K had left the EU, it seemed like nothing else could surprise anyone anymore, but then Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy.
The rather infamous mogul won the Republican primaries against all the odds, and then defeated Hillary Clinton to become Obama’s successor officially.
Merriam-Webster did not choose “surreal” as the word of the year for these events. As far as they know, the word might have become a trend among some groups or in university papers. However, most people agree 2016 has been a very surreal year.