Identity. Noun. Iden-ti-ty. Merriam Webster defines identity as “who someone is” or “the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others.”
It’s been a much talked about word this past year. There have been so many high profile stories in recent months on gender identity, not to mention race identity and sexual identity as well. Earlier this week, dictonary.com named “identity” its 2015 Word of the Year.
Liz McMillan, CEO of Dictionary.com explained why they made this selection.
“Our data indicated a growing interest in words related to identity, as people encountered new terms throughout the year based on events tied to gender, sexuality, race, and other key issues…Many words surrounding these topics trended or were newly added to our dictionary this year, making identity the clear front-runner as the Word of the Year.”
Terms that became more popular this year included: transgender, cisgender, omnisexual, asexual, and pansexual. Words that were added this year included: microaggression, gender-fluid, Mx., and sapiosexual.
While there may not be any one single person, event or news story solely responsible for mass public interest in “identity” during the past year, we should consider how many explored their identities on a public platform, such as Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal. In addition, tv shows like Transparent exposed many to questions of identity, especially viewers who otherwise were not familiar with the concept. McMillan further explains: “The trends that we saw linguistically all point to a larger shift in the way society thinks about identity as being more fluid, which was evidenced by the increase in related events and news headlines.”
So what do you think about “identity” being the 2015 Word of the Year, and how does it compare to dictionary.com’s winner in 2014: “exposure” and their 2013’s pick: “privacy”?