The dictionary site on Monday revealed “misinformation” as the term it believed aptly summarized 2018. It defined it as “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.”
“The recent explosion of misinformation and the growing vocabulary we use to understand it have come up again and again in the work of our lexicographers,” the dictionary’s linguist-in-residence, Jane Solomon, said in a statement.
“The word misinformation is particularly interesting as its meaning is widely conflated with disinformation,” Solomon added. “The intent behind the two words is important to note – with misinformation, the intent is generally not to mislead; with disinformation, the intent is always to mislead.”
The dictionary noted the role that tech platforms ― in particular, Facebook ― have played this year in the spread of misinformation.
It highlighted Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal, “the abundance of fake political ads” on the platform, and “CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s stance that Holocaust denial posts do not breach Facebook’s code of conduct because they are only wrong as opposed to intentionally misleading.”
The runners-up for Word of the Year, and the reasons for their inclusion, were:
“Representation jumped out to us thanks to the box-office success of films like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians.” Additionally, this word resonated with the historic midterm election wins for Muslim women, Native Americans, and LGBTQ candidates.”
“The word self-made surged in lookups after the publication of a Forbes cover story calling Kylie Jenner a “self-made billionaire.” This word was also top-of-mind when the New York Times published an exposé about the true source of President Trump’s wealth.”
“In 2018 we saw a backlash to the Me Too movement in certain circles, a backlash to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, and a backlash against harsh voter suppression tactics.”
Dictionary.com picked “complicit” as its Word of the Year in 2017, and “xenophobia” in 2016.