Last year, Dictionary.com chose "identity" as its word of the year because "many of the year's biggest stories focused on the way in which individuals or members of a group are perceived, understood, accepted, or shut out." Along those same lines, the website has this year chosen "xenophobia," citing how coverage of major events of 2016, like "the Brexit vote, police shootings, Syria's refugee crisis, transsexual rights, and the US presidential race" focused "on fear of the 'other,'" per a release. The greatest spikes in searches for the word came after the Brexit vote and after President Obama suggested Donald Trump engaged in "xenophobia or worse" in a June speech, per the Los Angeles Times.
However, searches of the word—as well as "xenophobe," "misogynistic," "divisiveness," "bigot," "secede," "fascism," and "racist"—have also spiked since the US election, the website says. Merriam-Webster—which has yet to reveal its 2016 word of the year—has noticed a similar trend. Use of "xenophobe" has increased 1,980% in the last year, use of "bigot" jumped 500%, and use of "fascism" climbed 450%, a rep tells USA Today. "Dictionary.com is right to make xenophobia the word of the year, but it is also one of the biggest threats we face," says a public policy professor at Berkeley. "It is not a word to be celebrated. It is a sentiment to be fought." (Trump also inspired this word of the year.)