What is the 2023 word of the year according to Merriam-Webster? Hint: Stay authentic.

NEW YORK (AP) — In an age of deepfakes and post-truth, as artificial intelligence rose and Elon Musk turned Twitter into X, the Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2023 is “authentic.”

Genuine food. Genuine tone. Genuine identity. The concept of being genuine as a facade. Searches for this term are consistently high on the dictionary company’s website, but saw a significant increase throughout the year, according to editor at large Peter Sokolowski in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

In anticipation of Monday’s unveiling of the word for this year, the speaker expressed concerns about a potential crisis of authenticity in 2023. They noted that questioning the authenticity of things may actually lead to a greater appreciation for it.

Sokolowski and his colleagues do not investigate the motivations behind individuals turning to dictionaries and websites to find certain words. Instead, they track the data on instances of increased searches and global events that are linked. In this instance, there was not a significant surge at any specific moment, but a consistent rise in interest for the word “authentic.”

In 2020, there was a lot of focus on artificial intelligence, but also a time of difficulty for OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. Celebrities Taylor Swift and Prince Harry emphasized the importance of being genuine in both their speech and actions. At the World Government Summit in Dubai in February, Elon Musk encouraged leaders from various sectors to use social media authentically by managing their own accounts.

Sokolowski expressed concerns about the reliability of student-written papers and political statements, stating that doubts about what we perceive have become increasingly common. He also noted that the concept of authenticity is now seen as a deliberate act.

The definition of “authentic” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is filled with various interpretations.

There is a genuine cockney accent that is not fake or copied, but rather an authentic representation. It is true to one’s individual personality, spirit, and character. It is also credible and trustworthy, conforming to facts and based on reality. It is made or performed in the same manner as the original. And, perhaps most notably, it accurately reproduces the essential features of the original.

The term “authentic” is the chosen word for 2022, following the previous year’s selection of “gaslighting.” In 2023, Merriam-Webster will celebrate its 20th year of choosing a top word.

The team at the company analyzes data to exclude commonly searched words like “love” and distinguishing between “affect” and “effect,” which are consistently popular among the 500,000 words listed on their online platform. Additionally, they have eliminated several five-letter words from their database because players of Wordle and Quordle frequently use the company’s website to aid in their daily games, according to Sokolowski.

Sokolowski, a language expert, and his team have several contenders for word of the year that received a lot of attention. These include “X” (searches increased in July after Musk’s renaming of Twitter), “EGOT” (there was a surge in February when Viola Davis achieved the rare quadruple-award status with a Grammy), and “Elemental,” the name of a new Pixar movie that saw a rise in searches in June.

Completing the list of the most popular words for the company in 2023, in no specific sequence:

According to Sokolowski, “RIZZ” is a slang term that refers to someone’s romantic appeal or charm, often seen as a shortened version of the word charisma. This word was recently added to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary in September and has been one of the most frequently searched terms.

KIBBUTZ: There was a massive spike in lookups for “a communal farm or settlement in Israel” after Hamas militants attacked several near the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7. The first kibbutz in Israel was founded circa 1909.

On June 18, the Titan submersible imploded during a commercial voyage to investigate the wreckage of the Titanic. This event caused a significant increase in searches for the term “implode,” which refers to something bursting inward. According to Sokolowski, it was a widely covered story that captured the attention of the entire world.

There was a lot of curiosity surrounding the term “deadname,” which Merriam-Webster defines as the birth name that a transgender person no longer goes by after transitioning. This interest was sparked by a wave of laws being introduced to limit the rights of the LGBTQ+ community across the nation.

“Doppelganger” is a word that is beloved by those who love words, according to Sokolowski. Its definition, according to Merriam-Webster, includes “double,” “alter ego,” and “ghostly counterpart.” The origin of this word can be traced back to German folklore. Recently, there has been a lot of interest in the word due to Naomi Klein’s new book, “Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World,” which was published this year. In her book, Klein uses her own experiences of constantly being mistaken for feminist author and conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf as a starting point for a larger story about the chaotic times we currently live in.

On May 6, King Charles III had a coronation, causing a 15,681% increase in searches for the word, according to Sokolowski. Merriam-Webster defines coronation as “the act or occasion of crowning.”

The definition of DEEPFAKE, according to the dictionary company, is when an image or recording has been effectively changed and controlled to falsely portray someone as doing or saying something they did not actually do or say. This term gained attention when Elon Musk’s legal team mentioned his frequent appearance in deepfake videos during a Tesla lawsuit, and later when a fake, computer-generated Tesla advertisement featured the likeness of Ryan Reynolds.

Reworded: The term “dystopian” became popular due to the increasing concern about climate change. It also gained attention through literature, film, and television as a form of entertainment. Merriam-Webster editor Sokolowski noted the rarity of a word being used in both serious and recreational contexts.

On March 27, there was a significant increase in searches for the term “covenant,” which refers to a serious and legally binding agreement. This was prompted by a tragic mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, where a former student opened fire and killed three students and three adults before being killed by police.

The release of “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” and Abraham Verghese’s highly anticipated novel, “The Covenant of Water,” also generated increased interest, especially after it was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club.

In a recent development, following U.S. Representative Mike Johnson’s appointment as House speaker, an interview from 2022 resurfaced. During the interview, the Louisiana congressman mentioned that his teenage son served as his “accountability partner” on Covenant Eyes, a software that monitors internet browsing history and shares reports with both partners if any pornography or potentially inappropriate websites are accessed.

INDICT: Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on felony charges in four criminal cases in New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C., in addition to fighting a lawsuit threatening his real estate empire.

Source: wral.com