Dictionary.com's Word of the Year has filled us with dread
Has it really been that bad a year?
I mean, compared to to 2016 it seems like way fewer beloved celebrities have died, but I suppose that's not the only metric.
Indeed, as the ocean fills with plastic, democracies continue to be imperilled by horrible governance and a lack of cybersecurity, and the world continues to get warmer, it's hard think that any word could be more appropriate for our times than: existential.
You know, as in existential dread, existential crisis, existential threat, and so forth.
Existential is defined as "of or relating to existence" and "of, relating to, or characteristic of philosophical existentialism; concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual's freely made choices."
Basically, if you're feeling existential you're thinking about what it means to be alive, and what our purpose is as extant beings in the universe. It means you're probably not in a great place.
Existentialism is a branch of philosophy, the most famous acolyte of which was Søren Kierkegaard, who said: "The most common form of despair is not being who you are." Classic Kierkegaard.
Dictionary.com themselves explain that they chose the word for its relationship to concerns regarding climate change, gun violence, the erosion of democratic institutions, and Forky — the character in Toy Story 4 who struggled to understand what it meant to be a toy, and kept trying to return to the trash.
The runner-up word of the year was nonbinary, a word which means "noting or relating to a person with a gender identity or sexual orientation that does not fit into the male/female or heterosexual/gay divisions."
As our understanding of gender science has increased, more and more people have eschewed the traditional divisions used to describe people in the past, leading to a huge uptick in people who identify outside the male/female binary.