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Monday, December 11, 2006

Small Wonder "Truthiness" is the New Word for 2006


SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Merriam-Webster OnLine, the leading source for English language reference on the Web, has revealed the results of its first Word of the Year online survey. For the past few years, the site has tallied the millions of anonymous hits to its free online dictionary and thesaurus to come up with the most frequently looked up words of the year. This year, however, Merriam-Webster decided to ask its visitors to send in their own nominations for the one word they think best sums up the past eleven months. By an overwhelming 5-to-1 majority vote, the company's online community has chosen the word "truthiness" to take top honors as Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2006.

When Comedy Central's The Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert first used the word "truthiness" in October of 2005 in a comedy skit, he defined the word as "truth that comes from the gut, not books." And in January of this year, the American Dialect Society chose the word as their own 16th annual Word of the Year, defining it as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true." So with it's 5-1 margin in the Merriam-Webster poll over a year after Colbert's original usage, it is clear the word has staying power. Yet, can it be any great surprise?

The past few years we have witnessed at our nation's highest levels the so many instances of something packaged, labeled and sold to the American people as truth in spite of contravening evidence. The war in Iraq being a prime example. Tensions in this country and far beyond our boarders for that matter, are strained by persons holding on to a truth they prefer as opposed to one based upon factual information.

The president of Iran is holding a two-day Holocaust conference in Tehran to discuss if the Holocaust in WWII actually existed. Along with so much of what we have witnessed over these past few years by our own president, it seems that there are plenty of examples of truthiness in the highest places. Can it be any wonder that these are times of extreme nationalist passions and great international strife? Truth has become not an objective, but a means to an end that is molded like play-dough to fit the occasion. We who buy into this are the play-dough that is manipulated.

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