Dictionary.com’s 2019 Word of the Year: ‘Existential’

Dec. 2 (UPI) — Dictionary.com on Monday announced its Word of the Year for 2019 — “existential.”

The online dictionary said the term has been used with a range of issues this year — including climate change, technology and ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Existential was chosen over the term “nonbinary,” which notes or relates to a person with gender identity or sexual orientation that does not conform to male or female divisions. It was Dictionary.com’s runner-up.

“[Existential] captures a sense of grappling with the survival — literally and figuratively — of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life,” Dictionary.com wrote in a blog post.

“Existential also inspires us to ask big questions about who we are and what our purpose is in the face of our various challenges — and it reminds us that we can make choices about our lives in how we answer those questions.”

The website said existential is an adjective meaning “of or relating to existence” and “concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices” — and cited its use in the plight of Forky, a character from Toy Story 4.

“Forky’s existential crisis resonates with audiences because we all think at one time or another, ‘What is my purpose in life?'” Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley said. “Examining what it means to be alive through the googly eyes of a disposable utensil, used for soup, salad, or maybe chili, has us questioning our purpose beyond what we think we are and what we can be.”

Last month, Oxford Dictionaries named “climate emergency” as its 2019 word of the year and Merriam-Webster will announce its top word later this month.