The phrase “fake news”, describing stories without a basis in fact, has been selected by Macquarie Dictionary as its word of the year.
The practice of creating hoaxes, propaganda and disinformation is said to have influenced the outcome of the US presidential elections.
The phrase sits alongside “post-truth” and “alternative facts”, both which have arisen on the election of Donald Trump as president.
Choosing compound nouns is another emerging trend by those picking neologisms that hit the big time. The Macquarie committee, which includes political commentator Annabel Crabb and author Kate Grenville chose “fake news” over “halal snack pack” – best remembered for when Labor senator Sam Dastyari invited One Nation leader Pauline Hanson out for one on election night – and “enby”, which describes someone who identifies as neither male nor female.
Here’s the moment halal snack pack enjoyed its 15 minutes:
Among the 15 “words” chosen by the Macquarie Dictionary’s 8-member word of the year committee, which also includes the University of Sydney’s vice-chancellor, chair of linguistics, director of libraries and the dictionary’s editor, nearly half – seven – contained two words, including bubble soccer, rumbler alarm, filter bubble, patient navigator and standing desk.
Last month, the Australian National University’s National Dictionary Centre chose “democracy sausage” as its word for 2016 over phrases such as “census fail” and “smashed avo”.
The Macquarie Dictionary’s defines fake news as: “Disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic; the incorrect information being passed along by social media”.
At a press conference earlier this month president Trump told a CNN reporter he wasn’t allowing him a question because: “You are fake news.”
The dictionary gave honourable mentions to enby, a non gender specific term to replace male or female, and halal snack pack, a fast food combining layers of hot chips, grated cheese, halal doner kebab meat, plus garlic, barbecue and chili sauce.
“The concept of fake news is one of the big issues of 2016, not only in Australia but around the world,” say the eight judges on the selection committee.
“It captures an interesting evolution in the creation of deceptive content as a way of herding people in a specific direction.
“There has come a point with fake news where people are beginning to believe what they want to believe, whether or not the news story is actually true.”
Here are the finalists the Macquarie Dictionary chose and their definitions:
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