Xenophobia is Dictionary.com's Word of the Year for 2016. According to Dictionary.com, the definition of Xenophobia is "fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers." Due to prominent news stories such as the US presidential race, the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union, and the Syrian refugee crisis there has been a focus on fear and hate on those who are different.

"Xenophobia reflected the worldwide interest in the unfortunate rise of fear of otherness in 2016, making it the clear choice for Word of the Year," said Liz McMillan, CEO, Dictionary.com.

The word Xenophobia relates to major world events

The largest spike in lookups for the word xenophobia was on June 24, 2016, which was the day after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union as the result of Brexit. After the vote, there was also an increased search for the term hate crime because of the increase in related crimes in the UK.

In June, there was another surge in searches for the word xenophobia as it related to the 2016 US presidential race after President Obama gave a speech using the word relating it to now President-elect Donald Trump. During and after the presidential race the United States has seen the rise of white nationalism and the promotion of fear and hate directed toward Muslims, Latinos, LGBTQ+, and black America.

Xenophobia is also present in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Since the country is primarily Muslim many countries are nervous to let refugees cross their borders. This fear has led to a focus on immigration policies around the world.

According to McMillian, there is no way to know the exact reasons why xenophobia was searched so often this year but is shows us that the users of Dictionary.com are trying to understand world events.

Dictionary.com's word of the year xenophobia is not to be celebrated but it is a sentiment to continue to fight for change, according to Robert Reich, Professor at Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy.

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