There have been a lot of surprising and not so surprising words of the year. Oxford dictionary famously chose “post-truth,” Dictionary.com picked “xenophobia,” and Austria chose “Bundespraesidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung."
Mirriam-Webster, one of the world's most popular dictionaries, has chosen “surreal.” According to the dictionary, “it was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than it was in previous years, and because there were multiple occasions on which this word was the one clearly driving people to their dictionary.”
Many would describe the events of the year as pretty surreal, even people that didn’t have a word for it. People not having a word for the crazy events of the year is what led to the spike in "surreal."
“Surreal had three major spikes in interest that were higher in volume and were sustained for longer periods of time than in past years. In March, the word was used in coverage of the Brussels terror attacks. Then, in July, we saw the word spike again: it was used in descriptions of the coup attempt in Turkey and in coverage of the terrorist attack in Nice. Finally, we saw the largest spike in lookups for surreal following the U.S. election in November.”
So there you have it, if you want the word of the year to be “pizza,” we’re all going to have put forth the effort and start looking up “pizza” more often.