Skip to main content
* UC Irvine access only

Post-Election Resources: Word Definitions



Find yourself wondering about all the words and concepts floating around? Here's a short list of definitions during and after the elections:

Alternative facts: The term "alternative facts" was coined by Kellyanne Conway in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd that took place January 22, 2017, in claiming that President Trump's Inauguration on January 20, 2017 was the most populously attended inauguration, ever. When this assertion was challenged via a comparison to crowd size attending President Obama's 2009 inauguration, Conway said that "...our press secretary is giving alternative facts to that." In response, Todd said "Alternative facts are not facts, they’re falsehoods.” The Miriam-Webster dictionary asserted in a tweet that “A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality.” From this exchange, one may conclude that "alternative facts" are those that are not, indeed, facts. (Description of televised interview taken from Business Insider,, Politico, and Merriam-Webster posting

Confirmation bias: Is the human behavioral tendency to "process information bearing on the truth of their theories in a way that facilitates their continuing to regard those theories as true." (Gregg, A. P., Mahadevan, N., & Sedikides, C. (2017). The SPOT effect: People spontaneously prefer their own theories. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70(6), 996-1010. doi:

Fake news: "information that is clearly and demonstrably fabricated and that has been packaged and distributed to appear as legitimate news. This narrow definition seeks to distinguish fake news from other types of misleading information by clarifying that the former is patently false and was created and presented in a way meant to deceive consumers into thinking it is real. Fake news refers to a specific piece of information; it does not refer to any particular type of news outlet, individual, or other actor." Media Matters,, accessed 23 February 2017)

Filter bubble: "Customized results from search engines that are geared to the individual based on that person's past search preferences. It means two people searching for the same thing receive a different sequence of results." (PC Mag Encyclopedia,, accessed 10 March 2017)

Gaslighting: CNN Opinion has this to say about gaslighting: "The term comes from the 1930s play "Gas Light" and the 1940s Hollywood movie version (Gaslight) in which a manipulative husband tries to unmoor his wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, by tampering with her perception of reality. He dims the gaslights and then pretends it's only she who thinks they are flickering as the rooms grow darker. That's only the beginning. He uses a variety of truth-blurring techniques. His goal is to exert power and control by creating doubts about what is real and what isn't, distracting her as he attempts to steal precious jewels." (CNN Opinion, "Donald Trump is 'Gaslighting' Us All," accessed 21 March 2017)

Post-truth: "an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief'." (Oxford Living Dictionaries, accessed 23 February 2017)


Dictionaries available through UCI Libraries

We subscribe to multiple authoritative dictionaries online so that you can look up word meanings for your assignments, research, writing, and general learning. Here's a few:

Non-English language Dictionaries