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Merriam-Webster Picks 2023 Word of the Year

"Authentic" is the top word of 2023, according to America's oldest dictionary. Merriam-Webster said it saw a "substantial increase" in online searches for it this year, with interest being "driven by stories and conversations about AI [artificial intelligence], celebrity culture, identity, and social media."

One reason people may search for the word is because it has a number of meanings, including "not false or imitation" and also "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character."

"Although clearly a desirable quality, 'authentic' is hard to define and subject to debate," Merriam-Webster's publisher said.

The publisher added that the popularity of the word, which had been highly searched in the US in the past, grew this year as "the line between 'real' and 'fake'" became increasingly blurred." The AI boom helped with the blurring, spurring interest in the authenticity of text, images and videos. Brands, social media influencers, and celebrities also popularized the word, including Elon Musk, the owner of X (formerly Twitter), who has said people should be more "authentic" on social media.

One of the runner-ups for the top was "deepfake", used to describe videos and photos that are digitally altered with AI. Other top words from 2023 include the internet slang "rizz", short for charisma, meaning romantic appeal or charm. The top words in the US were not immune to British influence. The word "coronation" was also highly searched after Charles III was crowned king in May.

In 2022, the word of the year was "gaslighting", a colloquial term for manipulating somebody to cause them to question their own realities or beliefs.

Hats off to the BBC.


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