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‘Xenophobia’ chosen as 2016 word of the year by Dictionary.com

Searches for xenophobia surged in 2016.
Searches for xenophobia surged in 2016. Dictionary.com

Dictionary.com has chosen xenophobia as the 2016 word of the year, suggesting a “fear of or hatred of foreigners” was omnipresent in the “cultural consciousness” over the past 12 months.

Xenophobia means “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers,” and is often used when discussing hate speech and discriminatory behaviours or actions. The word was selected, in part, due to the spike in online searches for its definition.

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“At Dictionary.com we aim to pick a Word of the Year that embodies a major theme resonating deeply in the cultural consciousness over the prior 12 months,” a Dictionary.com blog post stated.

“This year, some of the most prominent news stories have centered around fear of the ‘other.'”

Searches for the word increased by 938 per cent on June 24 — the day after Britain voted to leave the European Union, dubbed Brexit. Soon after, searches for “hate crime” surged, following reports of attacks against minorities after the vote.

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READ MORE: Migration control key reason to leave the EU: Brexit advocate

WATCH: Train passengers in Manchester verbally and racially abuse other passengers, yell “get back to Africa”

Click to play video 'Teens recorded racially abusing Manchester tram passenger' Teens recorded racially abusing Manchester tram passenger
Teens recorded racially abusing Manchester tram passenger

Searches for xenophobia spiked again in June, after a speech by President Barack Obama in which he spoke worriedly about Donald Trump‘s political rhetoric.

President-elect Trump vowed to build a wall along the border of Mexico, committed to deporting millions of “illegals,” and in the past suggested that mosques be monitored, and all Muslims banned from entering the U.S.

WATCH: Donald Trump reads out his policy to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

Searches for the term xenophobia spiked again the day after the U.S. presidential election, and Trump’s victory.

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Dictionary.com suggests that the word of the year selection, and its definition, provide good reason for reflection.

“Despite being chosen as the 2016 Word of the Year, xenophobia is not to be celebrated. Rather it’s a word to reflect upon deeply in light of the events of the recent past,” the blog post notes.