Merriam-Webster OnLine has revealed the results of its first “Word of the Year” online survey. For the past few years, the site has tallied the millions of anonymous hits to its free online dictionary and thesaurus to come up with the most frequently looked up words of the year.
This year, however, Merriam-Webster decided to ask its visitors to send in their own nominations for the one word they think best sums up the past eleven months. By an overwhelming 5-to-1 majority vote, the company's online community has chosen the word "truthiness" to take top honors as Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2006.
Truthiness became popularized after the October 2005 debut broadcast of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report
, when the show's host Stephen Colbert
defined the word as "truth that comes from the gut, not books."
In January of 2006, the American Dialect Society chose the word as their own 16th annual “Word of the Year,” defining it as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true."
"I think there's a serious issue lurking behind the popularity of the word truthiness," said John Morse, President and Publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc. "What is it exactly that constitutes truth today? This isn't just a political question-it's relevant to a broad spectrum of social issues where our ideas on the nature of authority are being challenged. Adopting the word truthiness is a playful way to deal with this important question."