Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the fear and hatred of “otherness” around the world this year, has chosen “xenophobia” as their Word of the Year. The word choice reflects a contentious year globally, which included Brexit and the 2016 presidential election, in addition to world events and news articles focusing on immigration, Syrian refugees, burkini bans and white nationalism. defines xenophobia as “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers” or “fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc., of people who are culturally different from oneself.” According to, the word is fairly new to the English language and is a combination of “xénos meaning ‘stranger, guest,’ and phóbos meaning ‘fear, panic.'”

According to a statement, Liz McMillan, CEO of, said, “Xenophobia and other words tied to global news and political rhetoric reflected the worldwide interest in the unfortunate rise of fear of otherness in 2016, making it the clear choice for Word of the Year.”

Earlier this month, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” as their Word of the Year, marked too by Brexit and the contentious 2016 presidential election. They saw a significant spike in use because of politics as a whole and the commentary that accompanied it.

Previous Words of the Year by include “identity,” “exposure,” “privacy,” “tergiversate” and “change.”

In response to this year’s word, Robert Reich, professor at Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, said, “‪‪ is right to make xenophobia the word of the year, but it is also one of the biggest threats we face. It is not a word to be celebrated. It is a sentiment to be fought.”

Social Media Reacts to’s Word of the Year

What are your thoughts on’s Word of the Year? Do you like their pick or Oxford Dictionaries’ word choice better? Sound off in the comments section below!

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