Merriam-Webster has named “surreal” its Word of the Year. How fitting.
Surreal—an adjective meaning “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream; unbelievable”—beat out words like revenant, feckless and bigly. Thanks for that last one, Donald Trump.
Speaking of Trump, Merriam-Webster chose “surreal” because it was searched for many more times in 2016 than in previous years, and it also surged following certain events.
“In March, the word was used in coverage of the Brussels terror attacks,” explained Merriam-Webster. “Then, in July, we saw the word spike again: it was used in descriptions of the coup attempt in Turkey and in coverage of the terrorist attack in Nice. Finally, we saw the largest spike in lookups for surreal following the U.S. election in November.”
So Surreal was looked up most often when people wanted to describe brutal tragedies… and our own presidential election. Sounds about right.