Xenophobia has been the selected word of the year by online dictionary, Dictionary.com. The site defines the word as ‘fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers’.
Jane Solomon, one of the site’s lexicographers, told Associated Press that they plan to include ‘fear or dislike of customs, dress and cultures of people with different backgrounds’ within the definition. The word comes from two Greek words - ‘xenos’, meaning ‘stranger or guest’, and ‘phobos’, meaning ‘fear or panic.’
According to the online dictionary, interest for the word spiked in June this year. The highest increase for it was on June 24, the day Britain voted to leave the European Union. Search for xenophobia on the site increased by 938% from June 22 to June 24.
Apart from during the Brexit vote, the word was looked up during the police violence against black people in the United States, the Syrian refugee crisis, and US presidential election. “It has been significant throughout the year,” she said. “But after the EU referendum, hundreds and hundreds of users were looking up the term every hour,” said Solomon
Solomon, however, expressed regret over the choice. “I wish we could have chosen a word like unicorns,” said Solomon.
The site’s word of the year is picked according to search data and after consulting experts from lexicographers and marketing and product teams to the CEO, according to AP.