Conversations about President Trump, climate change, and even Toy Story 4‘s Forky all tie in to Dictionary.com’s word of the year for 2019: “existential.”
Dictionary.com announced the selection Monday, with the site saying searches for “existential” spiked throughout the year, such as after former Vice President Joe Biden labeled President Trump an “existential threat to America” or after people like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and activist Greta Thunberg referred to climate change as an “existential crisis” or an “existential emergency.”
And yes, Forky, the sentient spork from Disney’s Toy Story 4 who goes through an existential crisis while questioning his reason for being in the film, was also taken into consideration. Dictionary.com writes that “his dilemma actually speaks to a broader theme of threat and crisis reflected not only in culture and news, but also in our dictionary work throughout this year.”
Talk about a depressing way to end the decade. Other word-of-the-year selections aren’t much cheerier, though. Oxford Dictionaries went with “climate emergency,” and its shortlist included words like “eco-anxiety” and “extinction.” Last year, Dictionary.com’s word of the year was “misinformation,” while in in 2017, it was “complicit.”
Other stories Dictionary.com ties in to its pick include the Hong Kong protests, Brexit, and the mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas. The word existential “captures a sense of grappling with the survival — literally and figuratively — of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life,” the site bleakly writes.
Happy New Year, everyone! Brendan Morrow