2017 has undeniably been a politically-charged year. Britain has been learning to live again in the aftermath of Brexit. And we had to deal with the shock US presidential outcome, which saw Donald Trump become the 45th president of the United States and one of the most powerful men in the world.
The news stories of 2017 were littered with the repercussions of these decisions, which has led to a resurgence in political interest, particularly among young people in Britain.
The year culminated in ‘youthquake’ being named Oxford Dictionaries’ 2017 Word of the Year. ‘Youthquake’, meaning ‘A significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the action or influence of young people’, is only the tip of the iceberg. The political awakening of 2017 continues to be reflected through our changing vocabulary. Several new words in 2017 were of political origin, with many being runners-up for Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year.
Here’s a list of some of our standout political words of 2017:
1. Fake news
Fake news: False, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.
Fake news may have missed out on Oxford Dictionaries’ top spot, but it took The Collins English Dictionary crown. Thanks to its frequent use by President Trump, it became one of the most talked about words of 2017, with lexicographers from Collins English Dictionary reporting a usage increase of 365% since 2016.
Not only has ‘fake news’ been talked about by politicians and covered at length by news outlets, but its constant presence has also led to its absorption into our everyday social interactions. Our use of the word, both online and off, gives it an entirely different meaning in the form of memes and satirical humour.
2. Milifans and the Milifandom
Milifans: Fans of Ed Miliband – leader of the Labour Party between 2010-2015.
Mr Miliband even has his own ‘Milifandom’, something we’re sure no other politician can quite claim.
The ‘Milifandom’ is thought to have been created by 17-year-old student Abby Tomlinson on Twitter, in an attempt to engage young people in politics and react against what she believed was a distorted portrayal of Ed Miliband within British Media.
The hashtag #Milifandom caught on in a big way and has even gained recognition within national newspapers. The trend also went on to encourage several new spin-off words, such as ‘Milibae’ and ‘Milibro’ to refer to Ed Miliband himself.
This demonstrates that the use of social media to interact with British politics and take part in debates is a huge part of today’s political environment – a clear representation of how political engagement is evolving.
Corbynite/Corbynista: A supporter of Jeremy Corbyn – the British socialist politician elected leader of the Labour Party in 2015.
2017 was the year of ‘Corbynmania’. Corbynites are predominantly used to describe young Labour supporters who rallied behind Jeremy Corbyn in the ‘Snap Election’, causing Prime Minister Theresa May to lose her Conservative majority. The Labour party made this possible by targeting the untapped potential of young, first-time voters. Corbyn used social media, popular culture references and later even took to the main stage at Glastonbury music festival to gather support.
The term has been lent upon heavily by British media outlets in particular. Several mainstream news articles published in 2017 featured the term:
1. How to speak to a Corbynite: a helpful guide from The Telegraph
2. Brexit Tories opened the door to revolution. Corbynites walked through from The Guardian
3. Corbynites don’t believe in our democracy from The Times
Mansplaining: The explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising. Often with little or no consideration of the explainee’s level of knowledge or expertise.
The term ‘mansplaining’ was brought to prominence after Rebecca Solnit published her book ‘Men explain things to me’ in 2014, and has grown in prominence since.
Solnit did not explicitly use the term mansplaining in her book but instead spoke frankly of the unnamed phenomenon, giving reassurance to a generation of women who had shared this same experience. After that, it was only a matter of time before a witty social media maverick coined the label ‘mansplaining’ to describe this behaviour.
2017 saw a revival in feminist lingo after several high profile feminist issues came to light. In particular, the story of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct towards young and aspiring actresses has earned a lot of press coverage.
The stories inspired the start of the #MeToo movement in October 2017, across multiple social media channels. Millions of women used #Metoo to come forward with their own experiences.
Slacktivism: The practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment.
Slactivists are the activists of the digital age who engage in the ‘feel good’ activities of liking politically charged posts, tweeting their opinions, e-signing online petitions and then sharing their good work with friends.
Slacktivism has been criticized for its lack of deep engagement. However, there are also those who celebrate the ease of access to politics young people have today. This allows those with access to the internet to be more politically diverse, support more causes and make politics work for them.
The political climate around us is constantly changing and shaping our vocabulary, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the next round of political buzzwords.
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