‘Authentic’ chosen as word of the year by Merriam-Webster

The interest was driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media

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Merriam- Webster has ranked ‘authentic’ as the top word of 2023, after it saw a ‘substantial increase’ in online searches for it this year.

The interest was “driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media,” said the dictionary publisher.

One reason many people 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’.

Merriam-Webster said: “Although clearly a desirable quality, ‘authentic’ is hard to define and subject to debate.”

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, the company added.

One of the runner-ups for the top was ‘deepfake’, used to describe videos and photos that are digitally altered with AI.

Meanwhile, brands, social media influencers and celebrities also popularised the word, including Elon Musk, the owner of X, formerly Twitter, who has said people should be more ‘authentic’ on social media.

Other top words from 2023 include the internet slang ‘rizz’ – short for charisma, meaning romantic appeal or charm – and ‘indict’, which saw a surge in interest after former President Donald Trump was indicted.

The top words in the US were not immune to British influence.

The word ‘coronation’ was also highly searched after Charles III was crowned the new 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.