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Merriam-Webster chooses ‘authentic’ as the 2023 word of the year

In an era of deepfakes and post-truth, where artificial intelligence is on the rise and Elon Musk turned Twitter into an X, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2023 is “authentic.”

Authentic food. real voice. authentic self. Real as artificial. The word is commonly searched on the dictionary company’s site, but the number of searches reached new heights over the year, Editor-in-Chief Peter Sokolowski told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

“In 2023, there’s going to be a kind of crisis of authenticity,” he said ahead of Monday’s word of the year announcement. “What we’re finding is that when we question authenticity, we value it even more.”

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A Merriam-Webster dictionary rests on top of a citation file at the dictionary publisher’s offices in Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 9, 2014. Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2023 is “authentic.” (AP Photo/Stéphane Savoia, File)

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Sokolowski and his team haven’t delved into why people turn to dictionaries or websites looking for particular words. Rather, they track data about world events that correlate with lookup spikes. This time, there wasn’t a particularly big push at any point, but the growing interest in the “authentic” was constant.

This year was certainly the year of artificial intelligence, but it was also the moment when OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, suffered a leadership crisis. Taylor Swift and Prince Harry sought authenticity in their words and actions. Musk himself urged business leaders, politicians, ministers and other leaders to run their own social media accounts and “speak the truth” at the World Government Summit in Dubai in February. urged.

“Can we trust that a student wrote this paper? Can we trust that a politician said this? We can no longer always trust what we see.” Sokolowski said. “Sometimes we can’t believe our eyes or our ears. We now realize that authenticity is performance itself.”

Merriam-Webster’s term “authentic” has many meanings.

Like a real Cockney accent, it’s “genuine, real, not fake or imitated.” There is something called “being true to one’s own character, spirit, and character.” There are things that are “worthy of acceptance or belief as being in accordance with or based on facts.” There is such a thing as “made or done in the same way as the original.” And, perhaps most distinctively, it “adheres to the original to reproduce important features.”

“Authentic” follows the “Gaslighting” selection of 2022. And 2023 marks his 20th anniversary with Merriam-Webster’s top word picks.

The company’s data cruncher filters for evergreen words like “love,” “affect,” and “effect,” which consistently top searches among the 500,000 words defined online. Sokolowski said Wordsmith filtered out a large number of five-letter words because Wordle and Quordle players apparently use the company’s sites to play games every day.

Lexicologist Sokolowski and his colleagues have won numerous word of the year runner-ups, which also attracts unusual traffic. They include “X” (which saw a spike in searches in July after Musk’s Twitter rebrand) and “EGOT” (which led to Viola Davis’ rare quadruple Grammy win in February). ), and the movie’s title, “Elemental.” Pixar’s new movie saw a sharp increase in search numbers in June.

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Here are the company’s top quotes for 2023, in no particular order.

Liz: It’s a slang term meaning “romantic charm or charm,” and it seems to be short for charisma. Sokolowski said Merriam-Webster added the word to its online dictionary in September, and it has been ranking high in searches ever since.

Kibbutzim: After Hamas militants attacked several Gaza Strip suburbs on October 7, searches for “Israeli communal farms or settlements” spiked significantly. The first kibbutz was established in what is now Israel around 1909.

Implosion: The June 18 implosion of the Titan submarine on a commercial expedition to explore the wreckage of the Titanic led to a spike in searches for this term, which means “burst inward.” “It was a story that completely took over the world,” Sokolowski said.

DEADNAME: There was a lot of interest in what Merriam-Webster defines as “the name a transgender person is given at birth and no longer uses after transitioning.” The inquiry comes after an onslaught of bills aimed at restricting LGBTQ+ rights across the country.

Doppelganger: Sokolowski calls this “the language of word lovers.” Merriam-Webster defines it as an “alter ego,” “double ego,” or “ghostly counterpart.” It comes from German folklore. Naomi Klein’s latest book, Doppelgänger: A Journey Through the Mirror, released this year, has sparked interest in this term. She uses her own experiences, often confused with feminist writer and conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf, as a springboard to a broader story about the crazy times we live in.

Coronation: Charles III was coronated on May 6, and searches for that word jumped 15,681% year over year, Sokolowski said. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the act or occasion of coronation.”

Deepfake: Dictionary company definition is: “A fake made in a convincing manner to falsely convey the impression that someone did or said something that was not actually done or said.” “Images or recordings that have been altered or manipulated.” Interest comes after Musk’s lawyer in the Tesla lawsuit said Musk is often the subject of deepfake videos and Ryan Reynolds’ likeness appeared in a fake AI-generated Tesla ad. rose sharply.

Dystopian: Climate disruption has increased interest in this term. So were books, movies, and TV shows aimed at entertainment. “It’s unusual to see a word used in both contexts,” Sokolowski said.

Covenant: Searches for the term, which means “usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement,” spiked on March 27 in the wake of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee. The gunman, a former student, killed three students and three adults before being killed by police.

Interest has also skyrocketed for this year’s release of “The Guy Ritchie Contract,” and for Abraham Varghese’s much-anticipated new work, “The Water Contract,” which was nominated by Oprah Winfrey for her book club.

Most recently, a 2022 interview with U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson of the Louisiana House of Representatives was recirculated shortly after he was sworn in as Speaker of the House. With his Covenant Eyes, a software that tracks browser history and sends reports to each partner when pornographic or other potentially objectionable sites are viewed, he revealed how his then-teenage son He talked about how he became his “responsible partner.”

Indictments: In addition to fighting lawsuits that threaten his real estate empire, former President Donald Trump has been charged with felonies in four criminal cases in New York, Florida, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.

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