In a year where immigration and terrorism were at the forefront of political discussions, the “hatred of foreigners” has been named the word of the year.
Dictionary.com gave that honor to “xenophobia.”
It is defined two ways:
- fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures or strangers
- fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc. of people who are culturally different from oneself.
The announcement comes after a divisive political season in which Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton called her Republican rival Donald Trump a “xenophobe.” In response, Trump asked how many people knew what the word meant.
With fear of Syrian refugees being infiltrated by terrorism operatives, worries over illegal immigration, Trump’s plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico and a suggestion that Muslims be banned from entering the United States featuring prominently in the election, it’s no wonder the word stood out.
Dictionary.com shows a major spike in searches for the word in June. That’s the same time the British referendum to leave the European Union was held. The site lists both Trump and the “Brexit” as reasons for the increased searches.
The referendum was held June 23 and the online dictionary reported a 938 percent increase in searches for the term the next day. It reported another spike for the term June 30, a day after President Barack Obama gave a speech decrying Trump’s message as being xenophobic.
The site says it cannot determine the reasons behind the searches, just when the searches occurred.
Earlier this year, Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” its word of the year, piggybacking off another political phenomenon involving the plethora of misleading information found online.