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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Word of the Year: 'Tis Truthiness

Posted By on Wed, Jan 17, 2007 at 3:36 PM

It's official: Truthiness, the term coined by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, is Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year.

Respondents to M-W's online poll chose the expression -- a noun Colbert defined as "truth that comes from the gut, not books" and the American Dialect Society (which chose it as Word of the year in 2005) calls "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true" -- by 5 to 1 margin over the runner-up, "google."

This year's winner is a sharp contrast to 2005's Word of the Year, "integrity," which, as we all know, means "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility."

Why did the amateur linguists who responded to M-W chose such divergent words in back-to-back tallies? Perhaps they're trying to make sense of the 2004 Word of the Year, "blog." As close readers of online journals know by now, a blog can contain both truthiness and integrity -- depending on the source.

-Chad Garrison

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