By Katy Steinmetz
December 8, 2015

Dictionary.com announced its 2015 word of the year on Tuesday: identity.

“Over the past year, headlines tied to gender, sexuality and race dominated the news,” the company’s editors wrote in a press release. “In particular, many of the year’s biggest stories focused on the way in which individuals or members of a group are perceived, understood, accepted or shut out.”

Editors said they picked identity after they saw spikes in lookups for words such as transgender, cisgender and microaggression, which Dictionary.com defines as “a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other nondominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype.” They pointed to people including former NCAAP chapter president Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner as figures who launched a thousand think pieces about race and gender this year, while the Supreme Court altered the definition of marriage with a landmark ruling.

Opening the annual “WOTY” season for major players, Oxford Dictionaries chose an emoji as their word of the year in November. Last year amid Ebola fervor, Dictionary.com summed up the year with exposure, while Oxford anointed vape, Merriam Webster chose culture and the American Dialect Society voted for the hashtag #blacklivesmatter.

MORE: Words of the Year: How the Pithy Tradition Began

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