NEW YORK — In an age of deepfakes and post-truth, as artificial intelligence rose and Elon Musk turned Twitter into X, the Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2023 is “authentic.”

Authentic cuisine. Authentic voice. Authentic self. Lookups for the word are routinely heavy on the dictionary company’s site but were boosted to new heights this year, editor at large Peter Sokolowski told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

“We see in 2023 a kind of crisis of authenticity,” he said ahead of Monday’s announcement of this year’s word. “What we realize is that when we question authenticity, we value it even more.”

Sokolowski and his team don’t delve into the reasons people head for dictionaries and websites in search of specific words. Rather, they chase the data on lookup spikes and world events that correlate. This time, there was no particularly huge boost at any given time but a constancy to the increased interest in “authentic.”

This was the year of artificial intelligence, for sure, but also a moment when ChatGPT-maker OpenAI suffered a leadership crisis. Taylor Swift and Prince Harry chased after authenticity in their words and deeds. Musk himself, at February’s World Government Summit in Dubai, urged the heads of companies, politicians, ministers and other leaders to “speak authentically” on social media by running their own accounts.

“Can we trust whether a student wrote this paper? Can we trust whether a politician made this statement? We don’t always trust what we see anymore,” Sokolowski said. “We sometimes don’t believe our own eyes or our own ears. We are now recognizing that authenticity is a performance itself.”

Merriam-Webster’s entry for “authentic” states “not false or imitation: real, actual,” as in an authentic cockney accent. There’s “true to one’s own personality, spirit or character.” There’s “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.” There’s “made or done the same way as an original.” And, perhaps the most telling, there’s “conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features.”

Last year’s choice was “gaslighting.” And 2023 marks Merriam-Webster’s 20th anniversary of choosing a top word.

Unfit for trial: The University of North Carolina graduate student charged with fatally shooting his faculty adviser has been found unfit for trial after two mental evaluations, a judge ruled Monday.

Tailei Qi, 34, is accused of killing associate professor Zijie Yan in a science building at the state’s flagship public university on Aug. 28. He is being held without bond on charges of first-degree murder and misdemeanor possession of a firearm on educational property.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Alyson Grine said Monday that two separate mental evaluations found Qi likely suffers from untreated schizophrenia.

“Qi demonstrated delusional thinking, experienced auditory hallucinations, engaged in self-harm in the detention center, showed fragmented thought processes that impeded his communication,” she said.

Severe mental illness has rendered him unable to comprehend his situation, assist in his legal defense and understand court proceedings, even with a Mandarin interpreter present, Grine said. She ruled Monday that Qi will be committed to Central Regional Hospital in Butner for psychological treatment. Doctors will be required to notify the Orange County district attorney if his condition improves.

Ship attack: The five armed assailants captured by U.S. forces after seizing a commercial ship near Yemen over the weekend were likely Somali and not Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, the Pentagon said Monday.

Recent attacks on commercial vessels have been conducted by Houthis, seen as part of a rise in violence in the region due to the Israel-Hamas war.

While the Pentagon was still assessing the motives of the latest group, “we know they are not Houthi,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. He didn’t rule out that the rebels were somehow linked to the attack.

Korea tension: North Korea is restoring front-line guard posts that it had dismantled during a previous period of inter-Korean rapprochement, South Korea’s military said Monday, after animosities spiked between the rivals over the North’s recent spy satellite launch.

The two Koreas previously dismantled or disarmed 11 of their guard posts inside their heavily fortified border, called the Demilitarized Zone, under a 2018 deal meant to ease front-line military confrontations. But the deal is now in danger of being scrapped as both Koreas openly threaten to breach it.

The 2018 agreement required the two Koreas to halt aerial surveillance and live-fire exercises at no-fly and buffer zones that they established along the DMZ, as well as remove some of their front-line guard posts and land mines. The deal left South Korea with 50 board guard posts and North Korea with 150.

After North Korea claimed to place its first military spy satellite into orbit on Nov. 21, South Korea said it would partially suspend the deal and resume aerial surveillance along the DMZ in response.

Russian budget: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a national budget for the next three years that increases spending by around 25% and reportedly devotes a record amount to defense as the country’s military operation in Ukraine drags on.

The budget foresees spending in 2024 of 36.6 trillion rubles ($415 billion) with an expected deficit of $9.5 billion.

After the budget was passed by the lower house of the parliament, Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said it was developed specifically to fund the military and to mitigate the impact of international sanctions imposed after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Record low unemployment, higher wages and targeted social spending should help the Kremlin ride out the domestic impact of pivoting the economy toward the military, but could pose a problem in the long term, analysts say.

Kenya flooding: The Kenyan government on Monday urged people living in flood-prone areas to relocate to higher ground as heavy rains continued to wreak havoc across East Africa.

At least 76 people have died and 40,000 have been displaced from their homes since the rains began in October. President William Ruto convened an emergency Cabinet meeting Monday and said 38 of Kenya’s 47 counties had been affected by floods and mudslides made worse by the El Niño phenomenon.

The worst affected areas are the coastal cities of Mombasa and Malindi, and up north near Somalia.