Cafébabel's Post-truth Dictionary

Article published on Nov. 18, 2016
Article published on Nov. 18, 2016

In a year marked by empty promises on the side of big red buses and a President-elect whose own Twitter feed is awash in contradictory statements, it's no wonder that "post-truth" is the word on everyone's lips. Not even our dictionaries can be trusted anymore. [OPINION]

In 2004 it was "chav." In 2013 it was "selfie."  Each year the Oxford University Press chooses its “Word of the Year,” and in doing so provides a snapshot of the zeitgeist in the English-speaking word.

This year, the Word of the Year was "post-truth" - a noun defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” It’s a fancy way of saying that, to borrow a phrase from Michael Gove, the people have had enough of experts. Facts no longer matter. In 2016, the public will believe outright lies provided they’re shouted loud enough or shared often enough on Facebook.

This year’s shortlist was filled with equally depressing words and equally sanitised definitions. And since, in a post-truth world, words can mean pretty much whatever you want them to, we'd like to offer some alternative meanings.

alt-right [noun]

Oxford says: An ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterised by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.

cafébabel says: The polite term we've been reduced to using for hateful trolls on the Internet who spout white supremacist rhetoric, because trying to call them Neo-Nazis immediately invokes Godwin's Law.

Brexiteer [noun]

Oxford says: A person who is in favour of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union.

cafébabel says: A Brexiteer is a Brexiteer. Because Brexit means Brexit. And if you need more explanation than that, you're subverting the will of the people. 

chatbot [noun]

Oxford says: A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet.

cafébabel says: The only means of ensuring calm, rational or intelligent conversation on the internet in the year 2017.

coulrophobia [noun]

Oxford says: An extreme or irrational fear of clowns.

cafébabel says: A perfectly rational fear of a misogynistic, racist billionaire with stupid hair who has inexplicably become the leader of the free world.

glass cliff [noun]

Oxford says: Used with reference to a situation in which a woman or member of a minority group ascends to a leadership position in challenging circumstances where the risk of failure is high.

cafébabel says: What women want to throw themselves off when they get turned down for a job in favour of a man with absolutely no experience whatsoever (see; Clinton, Hillary).

hygge [noun]

Oxford says: A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

cafébabel says: The warm feeling you get when you set yourself on fire because you've finally had enough of this terrible, terrible year.

Latinx [noun]

Oxford says: A person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina).

cafébabel says: What Donald Trump's border wall will have written across it in regular intervals. 

woke [adjective]

Oxford says: [Originally in African-American usage] Alert to injustice in society, especially racism.

cafébabel says: What we've done every morning since the Brexit result was announced, hoping it was all a terrible nightmare.