The results are in and ‘fake news’ is the clear winner of Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Decade competition.
Fake news is defined as disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic, with the incorrect information being passed along by social media.
The Word of the Decade shortlist was made up of the Word of the Year winners from the past 10 years, and a Macquarie Dictionary spokesperson said this decade’s winner marked a moment in history.
“While the term was around beforehand, we think of fake news as emblematic of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the four years that followed it,” the spokesperson said.
“The phenomenon became part of our lives so quickly and was so overwhelming that school courses were developed to teach children strategies for detecting fake news.
“The ease with which we see this term being thrown around to instantly rob something of its credibility is a sign that it’s here to stay.”
The first runner-up was ‘mansplain’, a colloquial verb used to describe the act of a man explaining something to a woman in a way that is patronising, because it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter.
Mansplain jostled with fake news for the top honour right up until the moment voting closed.
“It was the Committee’s Choice in 2014, and was very contentious at the time,” the spokesperson said.
“Regarded as sexist by many, it was applauded by women as a simple description of a phenomenon long suffered by females, and it’s obviously still resonating.”
‘First World problem’ was the second runner-up, a noun that entered vocabularies to signify a problem that relates to the affluent lifestyle associated with the highly developed countries, that would never arise in poverty-stricken circumstances in developing countries.
Macquarie gives the example of having to settle for plunger coffee when one’s espresso machine is out of order.
Some critics say First World and Third World are inappropriate words to describe countries with different levels of development.
Nigerian American academic Dr Ngoze Erondu of Georgetown University told NPR she felt it connoted a sense of superiority and inferiority.
Dr Erondu said they were “antiquated and offensive” terms.
Read the full list of the shortlisted words that competed against ‘fake news‘ and their definitions here.
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