The ghost of Salvador Dali is probably twirling his magnificent mustache with glee on hearing that surreal has been chosen by Merriam-Webster as Word of the Year. Merriam-Webster defines the word as “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream,” and comments that “it was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than it was in previous years.” The dictionary and reference experts noted that searches for the word spiked three times this year: after the terror attacks in Brussels in March, after the coup attempt in Turkey and the terrorist attack in Nice in July, and following the US election in November.
“Surreal is often looked up spontaneously in moments of both tragedy and surprise,” adds Merriam-Webster, no doubt relieved that Fascism didn’t make it to the top spot. Other contenders for Word of the Year were Icon, Feckless, Deplorable, and Irregardless. That last one isn’t even a proper word, but then again, neither is Bigly (another in the list of popular words this year).