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Merriam-Webster names “authentic” the 2023 Word of the Year, runner ups include “rizz,” “deepfake,” “dystopian”

By Jake Beardslee · November 27, 2023

In brief…

  • "Rizz," defined as "romantic appeal or charm," spiked when added to Merriam-Webster dictionary in September
  • Interest in "deepfake" surged during legal cases involving possibility statements by celebrities are altered
  • Elon Musk renaming Twitter as "X" had people researching meanings of the letter
  • Other top words included "implode," "doppelganger," "covenant," and "deadname"
Merriam-Webster chose "authentic" as their 2023 Word of the Year based on a substantial increase in lookups driven by media stories and debates over AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media.  Merriam Webster

Merriam-Webster has named “authentic” as their 2023 Word of the Year. Lookups for “authentic” saw a major increase this year, driven by conversations surrounding AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media.

As defined in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “authentic” has meanings including “not false or imitation” - synonymous with real and actual. It also means “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” Rebecca Jennings of Vox stated that “”wherever people are supposedly being ‘authentic’ on the internet, the money will follow.”” Ironically, the quest for “authentic content creators” has made “authenticity” something that must be cultivated and performed.

Other top lookups in Merriam-Webster’s 2023 data included “rizz,” internet slang for “romantic appeal or charm.” It spiked when added to the dictionary in September. Interest also surged for “deepfake” - “an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone.” This occurred during legal cases involving the possibility that statements by famous people may be deepfakes.

Charles III’s coronation also drove lookups for “coronation,” as did a number of climate change related events for “dystopian.” Viola Davis making history as an EGOT winner increased interest in the term “EGOT.” And Elon Musk’s rebranding of Twitter as “X” had people researching the letter’s “mystique.”