The 'post-truth' that 'woke' us up

LONDON •Whether you are a millennial who is tired of getting blank stares when speaking in slang, or someone who cannot understand what the terms in the younger generation's hashtags mean, you now have cause for celebration: "Woke" and "post-truth" have officially been added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

Most people are familiar with the term "woke", which originally meant "to awaken after sleep", but it now carries different social connotations depending on the context, according to the OED.

The OED said in a statement on its website: "Use of woke in some African-American varieties of English has generated an adjectival meaning that has recently become prominent in general American use, prompting the addition of a new entry for woke as an adjective.

"By the mid-20th century, woke had been extended figuratively to refer to being 'aware' or 'well informed' in a political or cultural sense. In the past decade, that meaning has been catapulted into mainstream use."

The other term, "post-truth", was OED's word of the year for 2016.

According to the OED, the term means "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".

Both terms have been especially linked to recent events in the United States, which has seen controversies revolving around facts, false information and racism bubbling up over the past year.

In addition to these entries, the last alphabetic entry in the dictionary is "Zyzzyva", a tropical weevil native to South America, usually found on or near palm trees. It takes the spot previously occupied by "zythum", a kind of malt beer brewed in ancient Egypt.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'The 'post-truth' that 'woke' us up'. Print Edition | Subscribe