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Merriam-Webster names ‘surreal’ its Word of the Year for 2016

As per Merriam-Webster, the word surreal saw major spikes following Brussels terror attacks in March 2016, the coup attempt in Turkey and the terrorist attack in Nice. However, the largest spike in lookups for surreal was noticed after the U.S. election in November 2016.

Dec 21, 2016 15:31 IST
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Merriam-Webster's dictionary on 19 December 2016 named surreal Word of the Year for 2016.

As per Merriam-Webster, the word surreal saw major spikes following Brussels terror attacks in March 2016, the coup attempt in Turkey and the terrorist attack in Nice. However, the largest spike in lookups for surreal was noticed after the U.S. election in November 2016.

The word surreal is relatively new word in English, only dating back to the 1930s, derived from descriptions of the artistic movement of the early 1900s known as surrealism, which means “a style of art and literature developed principally in the 20th century,” and “stressing the subconscious or nonrational significance of imagery arrived at by automatism” or “the exploitation of chance effects.”

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What does the word mean?

  • The definition of surreal on Merriam-Webster is “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.”  It is a word that is used to express a reaction to something shocking or surprising.

Earlier in November 2016, the word ‘Post Truth’ was named as word of the year 2016 by Oxford Dictionaries. Later in the month, the website Dictionary.com named the word 'Xenophobia' as the Word of the Year for 2016.

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