Keep it real. Keep it 100%. Keep it authentic. Say hello to the 2023 word of the year according to the big dictionary folks, Merriam-Webster.

Authentic follows 2022’s choice of “gaslighting” and marks Merriam-Webster’s 20th anniversary choosing a top word.

We all use authentic. Authentic self. Authentic food. Authentic experience. In business we want authentic leadership and authentic brands.

Lookups for the word are routinely heavy on the Merriam-Webster’s site but jumped to new heights during 2023, editor at large Peter Sokolowski told The Associated Press.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year: What Does It Mean?

Merriam-Webster is one of the most important dictionaries in the English language, known for carefully choosing a word that represents the current culture each year.

When it comes to language and its impact on society, I find myself captivated by the latest trends and the cultural shifts that emerge from them. Consider globalization and language convergence.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, we see a convergence of languages and cultures. This is evident in the growing popularity of English as a global language, as well as the adoption of foreign slang and expressions into everyday communication.

This convergence also leads to a blurring of cultural lines, creating a more diverse and interconnected global society. Globally we choose words to reflect our values, desires and collective experiences.

So it is no surprise that Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year holds such significance and fascination for people around the world.

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The Relevance of Authenticity for Entrepreneurs

The word “authentic” is incredibly important for entrepreneurs for several key reasons:

Building Trust and Credibility: In an era saturated with information and competing voices, authenticity serves as a beacon of trust and credibility. When entrepreneurs are genuine and transparent, it’s easier to connect with your audience on a deeper level. This builds trust and helps establish your brand as a reliable source of information.

Standing Out in a Crowded Market: Entrepreneurs face fierce competition, making it crucial to stand out from the crowd. If you want to stand out from the pack embrace authenticity. This means communicate your unique voice, values and perspective. This will help you attract customers who share your vision and resonate with your brand.

Promoting a Healthy Brand Image: In our digital age, consumers have access to almost unlimited information about brands. When you are genuine and transparent, you build a consistent brand image. This not only attracts more customers but also protects your brand from potential damage caused by hidden agendas.

Consumers want to feel a genuine connection with the brands they choose to support, and authenticity serves as the foundation for building those connections.

Authentic is Merriam-Webster word of the year 2023.
People increasingly crave authenticity.

Authenticity as a Guiding Principle for Your Brand

Cultivating authenticity within your brand is not just a trendy buzzword; it’s a strategic decision that can set your brand apart.

Here are some practical steps to incorporate authenticity into your brand’s messaging and interactions:

1. Tell your unique story: I wrote previously about how to create the brand story that sells. Share the journey, triumphs, and even failures that define your brand’s story. Authenticity lies in openly expressing your brand’s history and values.

2. Engage with your audience: Actively listen to your customers. Respond to their concerns and genuinely engage with them. Here email marketing can be great. Authenticity is conveyed through meaningful interactions that demonstrate your brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

3. Be transparent: Share your brand’s processes, ingredients and sourcing methods. Show some behind-the-scenes work. Consumers appreciate brands that are open and honest about their practices, reinforcing the sense of authenticity.

4. Avoid excessive self-promotion: Avoid bombarding customers with self-congratulatory messages. Instead focus on delivering value and building trust. Authenticity is best conveyed through actions rather than empty words.

The Danger of Inauthenticity: Avoiding the “Authenticity Trap”

While authenticity can be a powerful asset, I mentioned earlier it is essential for brands to avoid the trap of inauthenticity.

Trying to appear authentic without genuinely embodying those qualities can lead to severe consequences. The risks include loss of trust and customer loyalty.

Brands must navigate the fine line between authenticity and inauthenticity by staying true to their core values and consistently delivering on their promises. Customers are increasingly adept at detecting inauthenticity, and brands that fail to live up to their stated values risk damaging their reputation.

One notable example of a global brand that suffered due to a perceived inauthenticity is Peloton. In 2019, the company released a holiday ad featuring a woman receiving a Peloton exercise bike as a gift from her husband. “Peloton Wife” became a character widely criticized on social media. Comedian Eva Victor ’s parody of the commercial garnered more than three million views.

peloton wife advertt was not received well on social media
Brands must navigate the fine line between authenticity and inauthenticity.


The selection of “authentic” as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year highlights the growing importance of transparency and genuine connection in our society. For brands, embracing authenticity is not just a trend but a strategic imperative.

By cultivating authenticity, brands can build trust, foster long-term relationships, and create a loyal following. Whether it’s through genuine storytelling, transparent practices, or meaningful customer engagement, the power of authenticity should not be underestimated.

Consumers are looking for brands that are genuine, transparent and inclusive. As we navigate an ever-changing world, let us embrace the power of authenticity. It is time to forge connections that transcend language and cultural barriers.

Imagine making the “word of the year” a guiding light for us all.

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