Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Deepfake

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is deepfake. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Deepfake refers to an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.

// The leaked video incriminating the school’s dean was discovered to be a deepfake.

DEEPFAKE in Context

“All sorts of deepfakes are possible. Face swaps, where the face of one person is replaced by another. Lip synchronization, where the mouth of a speaking person can be adjusted to an audio track that is different from the original. Voice cloning, where a voice is being ‘copied’ in order to use that voice to say things.” — Julia Bayer and Ruben Bouwmeester,, 14 Jan. 2022

Did You Know?

The old maxim “things aren’t always as they seem” seems more true than ever in the age of deepfakes. A deepfake is an image, or a video or audio recording, that has been edited using an algorithm to replace the person in the original with someone else (especially a public figure) in a way that makes it look authentic. The fake in deepfake is transparent: deepfakes are not real. The deep is less self-explanatory: this half of the term is specifically influenced by deep learning—that is, machine learning using artificial neural networks with multiple layers of algorithms.

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