‘Strike,’ ‘Rizz,’ ‘Wokeism,’ ‘Indicted’ and ‘Wildfire’ make the dictionary’s shortlist
OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Dictionary.com, the leading online and mobile English-language educational resource, today announced the AI-sense of hallucinate, defined as “to produce false information contrary to the intent of the user and present it as if true and factual,” as the 2023 Word of the Year. Hallucinate reflects the culmination of a year where artificial intelligence rose to the center of global discourse, forever altering the trajectory of work, education, creativity and information intake. The word was newly added to the dictionary this year. The annual selection is based on the site’s search data, language trends, and major cultural themes of the year.
“The stories, language, wonder, and worry surrounding AI and its many implications were inescapable this year,” said Grant Barrett, head of lexicography at Dictionary.com. “Hallucinate as our 2023 Word of the Year encapsulates technology’s continuing impact on social change, and the continued discrepancy between the perfect future we envision and the messy one we actually achieve.”
In 2023, dictionary lookups for hallucinate increased 46% over 2022, alongside a comparable increase in the noun form hallucination. Up-to-the-minute corpus data from thousands of publications reveals an 85% year-over-year increase in the use of hallucinate in digital media, reflecting a sustained interest in AI’s prominence. General AI search interest also increased, with year-over-year dictionary lookups for AI-related words like chatbot, GPT, generative AI, LLM and others up 62%.
According to lexicographers at Dictionary.com, while awareness of the AI sense of hallucinate is recent in the public discourse, use of the term in the context of computer science dates to 1971. One of its first documented uses (in noun form) comes from a research paper on training computers to accurately “read” handwriting and output it. The term, including the verb form, began to appear in the context of machine learning and AI by the 1990s.
“This sense of hallucinate is not new, but it is newly pertinent to many people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Kory Stamper, senior editor of lexicography at Dictionary.com. “The conversations about the capabilities, ethics, and limits of AI touch on nearly every aspect of our daily life: what we read or see on news websites; whether our refrigerators are vulnerable to hacking; or whether a bot is going to replace us at work. It’s no surprise that people have latched on to hallucinate as a convenient shorthand for all these worries, and that the term was seen so often by our lexicographers and in our research.”
This year, Dictionary.com’s shortlist for Word of the Year candidates reflects how people turn to the dictionary to help understand the terminology around current events and complicated times. The five shortlisted terms represent the intersection of language with some of the year’s most significant events and trends: strike, wokeism, indicted, wildfire, and rizz, the year’s most durable—and, on Dictionary.com, most-searched—slang term.
Read more about Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year selection at https://www.dictionary.com/word-of-the-year/.
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Words define every aspect of our lives, from our ideas to our identities. Dictionary.com aspires to empower every person, of every background, to express themselves, make connections, and open the door to opportunity through the power and joy of language. With over 65 million visitors each month, Dictionary.com is the premier destination to learn, discover, and have fun with the limitless world of words and meanings. The brand helps you make sense of the ever-evolving English language so you can put your ideas into words—and your words into action.