Each year at this time, publishers of English dictionaries reveal their “words of the year,” which are primarily based on the number of searches for the word or words on the dictionaries’ websites. I am always surprised at some of the choices. See what you think.
Goblin mode: Oxford Languages, the creator of the Oxford English Dictionary, decided that the term “goblin mode” best reflected the mood of the past year. The slang term is defined as a “type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” This was the first year Oxford Languages let people vote on the word of the year. Last year’s choice was “vax.”
Gaslighting: Merriam Webster chose “gaslighting,” which the dictionary defines as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.” The word was brought to life in “Gas Light,” a 1938 play that was adapted into the celebrated 1944 film “Gaslight” starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. Last year’s choice was “vaccine.”
Homer: The Cambridge Dictionary credited disgruntled Wordle players for pushing the word “homer” to the top of this year’s list. The word, which means a baseball home run, was searched nearly 75,000 times on the dictionary’s website the first week of May when it was an answer in the online five-letter word puzzle. “Homer” became the dictionary’s highest-spiking word of the year. Last year’s word was “perseverance.”
Woman: Searches for the word “woman” on Dictionary.com “spiked significantly multiple times in relation to separate high-profile events, including the moment when a question about the very definition of the word was posed on the national stage.” Other words that made the short list included “democracy,” “quiet quitting” and “Wordle.” Last year’s word was “allyship.”
Permacrisis: Collins English Dictionary in the UK says “permacrisis,” which refers to “an extended period of instability and insecurity” (e.g., Covid and political chaos), best summarizes the past 12 months. Other words on the “top 10” list included “Carolean,” “quiet quitting,” and “vibe shift.” Last year’s word was “NFT,” the abbreviation of non-fungible token.
The American Dialect Society, which is credited with naming the first Word of the Year in 1991, will announce its choice on January 7, 2023. Last year’s word was “insurrection.”
What about you? What do you think the most important word of the year was?