The wordsmiths over at Merriam-Webster have announced their official “Word of the Year for 2023,” they say it’s something we are “thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more” than ever.
The word is authentic.
According to the dictionary, the most common definitions of authentic are “not false or imitation,” “being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character,” and “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.”
Merriam-Webster says the word saw a “substantial increase” in lookups this year. That’s probably because we now live in a world where artificial intelligence, deepfake technology and questionable memes challenge our basic notions of reality.
Authenticity is also seen as a commodity at a time when influencers build their brands on social media while attempting to seamlessly pitch their “favorite” products. These days, the average person scrolls through over 43 feet of content every day on social media. After being exposed to countless images of people, it becomes easier to spot the phonies from those who are being their authentic selves.
“When we look at common threads across the thousands of influencer marketing campaigns we’ve run at The Outloud Group over the last 15 years, the similarity between all of our best-performing brand creator partnerships is pretty simple: true authenticity,” Bradley Hoos, CEO of The Outland Group, a full-service influencer marketing agency, writes in Forbes.
Merriam-Webster adds that authenticity is a trait people strove to find for themselves in 2023.
“Celebrities like singers Lainey Wilson, Sam Smith, and especially Taylor Swift all made headlines in 2023 with statements about seeking their ‘authentic voice’ and ‘authentic self,” Merriam-Webster writes. “Headlines like Three Ways To Tap Into Taylor Swift’s Authenticity And Build An Eras-Like Workplace associate this quality with pop-culture superpower.”
The dictionary also highlighted more words that trended in 2023, including:
“Rizz” — Internet slang for “romantic appeal or charm” (noun) or “to charm, seduce” (verb), popularized by YouTuber Kai Cenat, was added to the dictionary.
“Deepfake” — Altered images or recordings that convincingly misrepresent someone’s actions or words, making it hard to distinguish between real and fake.
“Coronation” — The crowning of a new British monarch, King Charles III, sent people to the dictionary’s website to learn the term’s meaning.
“Dystopian” — In 2023, “dystopian” was a verb applied to many frightening real-world issues and was used to describe the trend in video games, books and movies depicting a dark future.
“EGOT” — Lookups for “EGOT” spiked in February when Viola Davis won a Grammy for the audiobook version of her memoir. That made her one of the 18 people to become an EGOT, or winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
“X” — When Twitter was rebranded as X on July 23, searches for the term spiked at Merriam-Webster.com, where curious people went to discover more about the mysterious letter.
“Implode” — When a submersible that went to visit the remains of the Titanic in June imploded, the term had a considerable spike as people attempted to learn more about the passengers’ fate.
“Doppelgänger” — This term got hot multiple times in 2023. It trended twice due to stories out of Germany and New York involving the attempted murder or suicide of someone’s lookalike. Further, September saw the release of Naomi Klein’s book, “Doppelgänger: A Trip Into the Mirror World.”
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