Taylor Swift holds one of her 9 awards at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards in Newark, N.J., in September. Swift's self-confessed search for her true self was one of the reasons that "authentic" was named Word of the Year by the Merriam-Webster's editors on Monday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Authentic, a word that has shown up everywhere from discussions on identity to artificial intelligence, is the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year for 2023, the publisher said on Monday.
The word, which has several dictionary definitions, outpaced other candidates such as rizz, deepfake, and coronation as the most-searched word, driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media.
Meanings for authentic range from "not false or imitation," a synonym of real and actual; and also "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character," the dictionary publisher said.
"Although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate -- two reasons it sends many people to the dictionary," dictionary officials said in their statement on Monday.
"Authentic is often connected to identity, whether national or personal: words frequently modified by authentic include cuisine and dish, but also self and voice. Celebrities like singers Lainey Wilson, Sam Smith, and especially Taylor Swift all made headlines in 2023 with statements about seeking their 'authentic voice' and 'authentic self.'"
Merriam-Webster said the combination of "authentic" landing so prominently in all three worlds of celebrity, identity and technology simply made it a tough word to beat in 2023.
"Authentic is what brands, social media influencers, and celebrities aspire to be," Merriam-Webster said. "Elon Musk made headlines when he said that people should be more 'authentic' on social media. Apps and platforms like BeReal make recording 'authentic' experiences theirmain purpose."
Honorable mentions included:
Rizz: used as a noun for a "romantic appeal or charm" or as a verb meaning to "to charm or seduce."
Deepfake: An image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.
Coronation: Driven by the coronation of Charles III as the new British monarch in May
Dystopian: This word reached its peak thanks to a video by the Republican National Committee in early April that was built entirely with AI-generated imagery, portraying what was widely described as the "dystopian future" the GOP asserts will result from the re-election of Joe Biden as president.
EGOT: The acronym for an entertainer winning all four major celebrity awards of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, picked up when Viola Davis won a Grammy for her reading of the audiobook version of her memoir, making her the latest to claim the distinction.
X: The 24th letter of the alphabet found its place in front of the pack when Elon Musk rebranded Twitter, sending people running to the dictionary to learn more about letter and what else it represents.
Implode: The word sparked interest after the tragedy of an underwater submersible attempting to visit the wreck of the Titanic disappeared in June.
Doppelgänger: Doppelgänger, which can refer to a living person that closely resembles another living person or can refer to the opposite side of one's personality, peaked during media coverage of two crimes in Germany and New York each involving the murder or attempted murder of someone's lookalike.
Covenant: Defined as "a formal, solemn, and binding agreement" or "a written agreement or promise," the word generated interest by Guy Richie's movie The Covenant, which depicted the rescue of an Afghan interpreter who had saved the life of a U.S. soldier in combat.
Indict: A word meaning "to charge with a crime by the finding or presentment of a jury in due form of law," generated interest throughout the year mostly because of former President Donald Trump and his multiple indictments and his often ferocious response to them.
Elemental: Meaning "any of the four substances air, water, fire, and earth formerly believed to compose the physical universe.
Kibbutz: Refers to a communal farm or settlement in Israel. The words was searched during Hamas initial strike on Israel on Oct. 7 and afterward.
Deadname: The word peaked in March during "parental rights" bills passed in several states, meaning the name someone was given at birth and no longer uses upon transitioning.