Truthiness: The WØRD (of the Year)!

Stephen Colbert can add another award to his mantle. Merriam-Webster has named “truthiness” 2006’s Word of the Year.

While it should never be forgotten that 2006 was the year that Stephen Colbert tore up the pols and the press at the White House Correspondents Dinner (one of the most-circulated videos of the year and probably in C-SPAN history: watch it here), it was also the year in which Colbert’s famous word-coinage was appropriated by real-news columnists and pundits to describe the Bush administration’s often unbelievable imagination/interpretation of reality.

Colbert is universally credited with coining the word “truthiness” and defining it on The WØRD segment of the inaugural Colbert Report as “truth that comes from the gut, not books.” Click to watch Colbert’s “truthiness” segment.

But already, a Google search culls “about 736,000” instances of “truthiness” on the Internet. As late as February, I recall getting involved in a discussion on Wikipedia regarding whether the word “truthiness” even merited it’s own entry (there are already considerably detailed entries on Colbert, Colbert the character, and his “Report“).

Colbert has become such an extraordinary legend among surfers of the InterTubes that he now has a wiki that is entirely his own — Wikiality: “The Internets Tube Dedicated to Truthiness!”

From the AP:

“We’re at a point where what constitutes truth is a question on a lot of people’s minds, and truth has become up for grabs,” said Merriam-Webster president John Morse. “‘Truthiness’ is a playful way for us to think about a very important issue.”

Other Top 10 finishers included “war,” “insurgent,” “sectarian” and “corruption.” But “truthiness” won 5-to-1, Morse said.

See all of M-W’s Words of the year here.

What a year. In fact, for “truthiness” it’s the second year of being named word of the year by one organization or another.

Here’s M-W’s official definition:

1. truthiness (noun)

1 : “truth that comes from the gut, not books” (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” October 2005)
2 : “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true” (American Dialect Society, January 2006)

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