It's official! According to Merriam-Webster (yes, of the famous dictionaries), "surreal" is 2016's Word of the Year.
What better way to describe the past 12 months, TBH? It's been a year of plot twists and countless didn't-see-that-coming moments, after all. In case you were wondering, Merriam-Webster's selection criteria is based on two things: First, the word must regularly have a high volume of lookups, and second, lookups of the word should spike in response to pop culture and world news events.
"Surreal" is defined as "marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream,"—if you caught yourself wondering if life could get any more bizarre, data proves that you definitely weren't alone.
"Surreal is Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year because it was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than it was in previous years, and because there were multiple occasions on which this word was the one clearly driving people to their dictionary," Merriam-Webster stated in their Word of the Year announcement.
Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam Webster, explained that "surreal" spawned three major spikes in lookups this year: "In March, the word was used in coverage of the Brussels terror attacks. Then, in July, we saw the word spike again: it was used in descriptions of the coup attempt in Turkey and in coverage of the terrorist attack this time in Nice. Finally, we saw the largest spike in lookups for surreal following the U.S. election in November."
Sounds perfectly apt to us. What do you think? Has 2016 felt surreal to you, too?