At the end of every calendar year, dictionaries around the globe select one word to sum up how language morphed in the preceding 12 months, to recognize a trend in mainstream vernacular and comment on the human condition at that moment in time. Come December, we are bombarded with dozens of different words, which always cast a wide net, paint a vague picture, and interchangeably solicit reactions from “yikes” to “sure.”
Here’s a look at the many words of the year, selected by the lexicographical powers that be.
gaslighting (n.): “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”
Why was it chosen: M-W cites the “age of misinformation” we live in, and a 1,740% increase in lookups of the word this year. Though I kind of feel like I’m being gaslighted into believing this is the year this word gained relevancy, and not, say, six years ago.
Also in the running: oligarch, Omicron, codify, LGBTQIA, sentient, loamy, raid, Queen Consort
Cambridge Dictionary: homer
homer (n.): “an informal American English term for a home run in baseball.”
Why it was chosen: Cambridge Dictionary says it saw more than 65,000 searches for homer on May 5, when it was the answer to that day’s Wordle. Ninety-five percent of searches were outside North America, the dictionary said, and some speakers of British English didn't appreciate that Wordle's answer was American slang. Wow, the chokehold Wordle had on us…
Macquarie Dictionary: teal
teal (n.): “an independent political candidate who holds generally ideologically moderate views, but who supports strong action regarding environmental and climate action policies, and the prioritising of integrity in politics.”
Why it was chosen: The Macquarie Dictionary Committee, made up of the dictionary’s editors and publisher, wrote that teal is “an emblem of Australia’s political landscape in 2022.”
Also in the running: truth-telling (runner-up); goblin mode, spicy cough, bachelor’s handbag (honorable mentions); Barbiecore, bossware, brigading, clapter, e-change, gigafire, goblin mode, hidden homeless, nepo baby, orthosomnia, pirate trail, prebunking, quiet quitting, skin hunger, yassify (shortlist).
Collins Dictionary: permacrisis
permacrisis (n.): “an extended period of instability and insecurity.”
Why it was chosen: Collins states that permacrisis is “one of several words Collins highlights that relate to ongoing crises the UK and the world have faced and continue to face, including political instability, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and the cost-of-living crisis.” I feel this, and it’s what keeps me splooting.
Also in the running: Kyiv, Partygate, splooting, warm bank, Carolean, lawfare, quiet quitting, sportswashing, vibe shift
Oxford Languages: goblin mode
goblin mode (n.): “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typical in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”
Why it was chosen: The term first appeared on Twitter in 2009 but had a massive spike in popularity in February this year. Oxford Languages writes that in our post-lockdown reality, goblin mode seemingly captures “the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life.’” The president of Oxford Languages writes, “‘Goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point. … People are embracing their inner goblin, and voters choosing ‘goblin mode’ as the Word of the Year tells us the concept is likely here to stay.”
Also in the running: metaverse, #IStandWith