The biggest buzzwords of 2016

Written byAnna King
Updated 10th January 2017

Love them or loath them, there's no stopping a good buzzword once it gets going. In a world that's always switched on and with new trends, innovations and technologies popping up every day, it's natural to search for new ways to describe what's happening.

Whether referring to a totally new phenomenon, or simply giving a fancy new name to something that's always existed, the best buzzwords have a habit of sticking in your head. It's not long before you're Googling it, hashtagging it – and before you know it, it's in the dictionary!

Here are some of the top buzzwords (and buzzphrases) that made an impact in 2016:


Probably the most high-profile buzzword of the year, post-truth went stratospheric in 2016. Inspired by the EU Referendum in June, and then the extraordinary US election in November, respect for the truth had gone out the window by the end of the year! Referring to a world where appeals to emotions and personal beliefs are more important than the facts, the Oxford Dictionary recorded a 2000% rise in its use last year compared to 2015. Only time will tell if the truth comes back in fashion in 2017. Use with: fake news.

The biggest buzzwords of 2016Influencer marketing Hailed as the next big thing back in 2015, Google trends shows searches significantly increased throughout 2016, as brands looked to capitalise on the growing power of bloggers, social media celebrities and online thought leaders to connect with their audiences. And it looks set to get even bigger in 2017, with 84% of marketers planning to launch at least one influencer campaign within the next twelve months, according to emarketer. Use with: H2H (human to human) marketing.The biggest buzzwords of 2016


Yes, it happened; Uber, the world-famous car sharing app, got its own verb, which we couldn't get enough of in 2016. Referring to how new start-ups are shaking up traditional industries, using technology to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions, uberisation has since been hailed as the saviour of practically every industry on the planet. And while Uber is obviously a marvel of innovation and convenience, if we hear one more company describe themselves as the 'Uber' of x,y or z, we might just lose it. Let's move on people! Use with: gig economy, sharing economy.

The biggest buzzwords of 2016 AI

Not exactly what Steven Spielberg envisaged in his 2001 film, but artificial intelligence is now a real part of our everyday lives – even if it isn't quite what we would have imagined 15 years ago. The reality of AI may not be that dramatic (yet!) but it's still seriously impressive, with machines able to organise meetings, provide financial advice, even make predictions about the future. And everybody wants to be part of it, with over 200 AI-focused companies raising nearly $1.5bn in the first six months of last year, while AI businesses were acquired by the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. We're pretty sure this one's going to stick around for a while yet. Use with: machine learning.

The biggest buzzwords of 2016


Relatively unheard of a couple of years ago, 2016 was the moment InsurTech made it onto the buzzword barometer, riding hot on the heels of its big brother, Fintech. With the sudden rise in start-ups using innovative technology to challenge the old way of doing things in insurance, not to mention an impressive rush of investment, there was suddenly a need for a word to describe this thriving sector. And of course, we're very much in favour of this one! Use with: Digital Risks.

The biggest buzzwords of 2016

Generation snowflake

Of course, no year is complete without defining a whole generation – that's millions of individuals – with a catchy new name. We've had Generation X, Gen Y, the Millennials, and now we have the Snowflakes; those young adults of the 2010s who are (apparently) so delicate and easily offended that they simply melt if they hear any views contradicting their own. It was so popular, the Colin's Dictionary even named it one of their words of the year. Use with: safe space.

The biggest buzzwords of 2016

Read: New Year's Resolutions to give your start-up a boost in 2017

What does the election result mean for SMEs and digital businesses?

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