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Greek Word ‘Authentic’ Selected as the 2023 Word of the Year

authentic word of the year
The origin of the word “authentic” comes Greek “authentikos”, meaning principal and genuine. Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

The Greek word “authentic” was selected as the 2023 word of the year by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, landing among the most-looked-up words in the dictionary’s 500,000 entries, the company said in a press release Monday.

“Although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate — two reasons it sends many people to the dictionary,” Merriam-Webster said in its release. Look-ups for the word saw a “substantial increase in 2023,” it added.

For a word that we might associate with a certain kind of reliability, “authentic” comes with more than one meaning.

It’s a synonym for “real,” defined as “not false or imitation.” But it can also mean “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character” and, sneakily, “conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features.”

Origin of the word of the year comes Greek “authentikos”

This may be why we connect it to ethnicity (authentic cuisine or authentic accent) but also identity in the larger sense (authentic voice and authentic self). In this age where artifice seems to advance daily, we’re in a collective moment of trying to go back, to connect with some earlier, simpler version of ourselves.

The origin of the word “authentic” comes Greek “authentikos”, meaning principal and genuine. In late Latin it became “authenticus,” before it took its present form in modern English.

The dictionary said an additional 13 words stood out in 2023’s look-up data. Not surprisingly, quite a few of them have a direct tie-in to the year’s biggest news stories: coronation, dystopian, EGOT, implode, doppelganger, covenant, kibbutz, elemental, X and indict.

Others on the list feel connotatively connected to “authentic,” or at least our perception of identity in a changing age — words like deepfake, deadname and rizz.

This year, the data-crunchers had to filter out countless five-letter words because they appeared on the smash-hit daily word puzzle, Wordle, the dictionary’s editor-at-large told the Associated Press.

The Greek word “pandemic” was the word of the year in 2020

In 2020, Merriam-Webster declared the Greek word “pandemic” as the word of the year.

Like tens of thousands of medical terms used the world over, pandemic is of course of Greek origin.

And it came to the fore early on in the year, as the term rose to the top of the most frequently-searched words.

“The Greek roots of this word tell a clear story: pan means ‘all’ or ‘every,’ and dēmos means ‘people’; its literal meaning is ‘of all the people. The related word ‘epidemic’ comes from roots that mean ‘on or upon the people,’” Merriam-Webster stated.

“The two words are used in ways that overlap, but in general usage a pandemic is an epidemic that has escalated to affect a large area and population.”

Related: Speaking English Using Only Greek Words: Zolotas’ Historic Speech

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