Watch Stephen Colbert hit Oxford Dictionaries for ripping off "truthiness." (VIDEO.)

Stephen Colbert Says Oxford Dictionaries “Ripped Off” Its Word of the Year From Him

Stephen Colbert Says Oxford Dictionaries “Ripped Off” Its Word of the Year From Him

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Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 18 2016 12:45 PM

Stephen Colbert Says Oxford Dictionaries’ Post-Truth Is Just Watered-Down Truthiness


You may recall that Stephen Colbert, in his old Comedy Central persona, coined the noun truthiness on the very first episode of The Colbert Report as a way of trying to make sense of the Bush administration's dissimulations. Named the Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster in 2006, it’s defined as “the belief in what you feel to be true rather than what the facts will support”—a pretty apt way to describe a lot of what’s going on right now.

Oxford Dictionaries seemed to agree, given its choice of the synonymous post-truth as the word of 2016.* On Thursday night's Late Show, an amused Colbert responded to the selection, saying he felt “ripped off” and arguing that Oxford's use of a hyphenated word was kind of a cop-out, anyway. His reaction is about right for the current state of things: Quibbling with a dictionary publisher over the best way to label our indifference to facts feels like depressingly accurate commentary for the misinformation crisis of this dire election season.


*Correction, Nov. 18, 2016: This post originally misidentified Oxford Dictionaries as the Oxford English Dictionary.