The Oxford English Dictionary explains the WOTY choices 'as not only reflective of the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of this past year, but as having lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.
The WOTY choices are well-publicized globally and often end up used and discussed even more, as we've seen in 2016 words of the year, 'fake news' and 'post-truth.
I wrote last month about early WOTY choices that came from the Cambridge Dictionary ('populism') and dictionary.
Merriam-Webster, which has a popular online dictionary website, identified 'feminism' as its 2017 WOTY.
The WOTY searches are showing that we do have many Englishes now, so the American publishers come up with different choices from those of the British.