Each year, major dictionary publishers select a word of the year. The word usually reflects “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past 12 months” according to representatives of the Oxford Dictionary. This year’s selections seem to reflect an unnerving last 12 months.
Oxford Languages asked the public to sum up 2022 in a word. Voters instead chose a phrase.
For the first time ever, the winning phrase is the result of a public vote. Voters selected the winner from three finalists. Those options were chosen by Oxford Languages lexicographers (dictionary makers). They were goblin mode, metaverse, and the hashtag IStandWith. Oxford officials announced Monday that goblin mode won the online vote for its word of the year.
Despite being relatively unknown offline, goblin mode was the public’s overwhelming favorite. The phrase won 93% of the more than 340,000 votes cast.
The celebrated Oxford Dictionary defines goblin mode as “a type of behavior [that] is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”
First seen on Twitter in 2009, the phrase gained popularity in 2022. The choice is more evidence of a world unsettled after pandemic turmoil and lockdowns. It also reflects the huge changes in behavior and politics brought by social media.
“Given the year we’ve just experienced, goblin mode resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point,” says Oxford Languages President Casper Grathwohl.
Thankfully, in a world of doubt and confusion, Jesus Christ remains the same.
Last week, Merriam-Webster also announced its word of the year. It chose gaslighting—a type of mental control intended to make a person question his or her own thoughts or sanity.
Merriam-Webster logs 100 million pageviews per month on its site. Editors chose the dictionary’s word of the year based solely on data.
“It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year,” Peter Sokolowski says. He is Merriam-Webster’s editor at large.
In 2021, the Oxford word of the year was vax and Merriam-Webster’s was vaccine.
Any guesses as to what 2023’s word might be?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. — Hebrews 13:8
(Merriam-Webster’s online entry for the word gaslighting. Merriam-Webster via AP)