"Alternative facts" has been named the worst word or phrase of the year.

The Plain English Foundation chose the phrase as an example of political doublespeak that ruled the year.

Each year the foundation gathers dozens of examples of the worst words and phrases to highlight the importance of clear public language.

Executive director Dr Neil James said Donald Trump dominating politics gave the world some of its worst political spin.


On his first day in the job President Donald Trump's then press secretary lied about the size of the crowd attending the inauguration. Defending him, counsellor Kellyanne Conway said the secretary had merely given "alternative facts".

"In a post-truth era, our politicians can apparently give alternative facts and be instinctively correct, regardless of reality," James said.

"Yet a fact cannot have an alternative that is also a fact."

Corporate spin phrases also featured this year. James was worried about the growth of "frankenwords" - non-existent words that corporations make up to market themselves.

James referenced security staff violently dragging passengers off a plane, which an airline downplayed it as an "overbook situation" that led to "involuntary de-boarding".

Gambling companies exhorted us to have a "Merry Puntmas" or experience more "joyments" and a new bank marketed its staff as "the Betterers".

"This kind of language tries to minimise scrutiny and evade accountability," James said.

"While the English language evolves, we should call corporations to account for inventing ugly non-words in their own interests.

"There's something particularly inappropriate about a gambling company redefining Christmas to promote its product."

Sexual harassment scandals led to some of the worst non-apologies of recent years, such as Australian television presenter Don Burke's admission that "I might have terrified a few people, or whatever" after claims that he was a serial sexual harasser.

​Full list of 2017's worst words and phrases


Alternative facts

Spin and doublespeak
Instinctive correctness
Involuntary de-boarding
Sexual risk avoidance

Merry Puntmas

Buzzwords and Jargon
Uncommanded engine operations
Optimised non-linear trajectory

Tautologies, non-apologies and other cacologies
Fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media
I might have terrified a few people, or whatever
No fixing of restraints to the handrail stanchions