From woke to zyzzyva - the new words added to the OED

'hygge' and 'post-truth' make it into this year's dictionary update - and 'thing' is now a thing

Peace protester, LA riots
A peace rally marks the 25th anniversary of the infamous LA race riots, sparked by the beating of Rodney King
(Image credit: Warrick Page/Getty Images)

Both politically and culturally, 2016 was a turbulent year and the Oxford English Dictionary has recognised this in its latest update, with "woke" and "post-truth" now included.

The original meaning of woke is to awaken after sleep but the word now has a political meaning after being taken up by the Black Lives Matter movement.

"By the mid-20th century," says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), "woke had been extended figuratively to refer to being 'aware' or 'well informed' in a political or cultural sense."

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"Post-truth" has been chosen as the OED's word of 2016 - to reflect a year that included political shocks such as the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union and the US election of President Donald Trump.

It is defined as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping political debate or public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief".

There is also a new word right at the end of the dictionary, Zyzzyva - the name of a genus of tropical weevils native to South America and typically found near palm trees.

"No one knows where zyzzyva came from," said Fiona McPherson, the OED's new words editor.

"There are some sources saying it makes a reference to the noises made by the weevil."

More than 600 new words, phrases, and senses have been added this time around, with other highlights including Danish way of life "hygge" and a number of tennis terms in time for Wimbledon including "bagel", "changeover" and "career slam".

Fans of television series The West Wing may be pleased to hear that "thing" is now a thing.

"A new usage of 'thing' refers to questions conveying surprise or incredulity, such as: 'How can that be a thing?'" Oxford University Press said.

It was traced back to an early episode of Aaron Sorkin's show.

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