• Thursday, November 30, 2023


Oxford Word of the Year is self-indulgent ‘goblin mode’

“I think that Goblin Mode really does speak to the times and the zeitgeist, and it is certainly a 2022 expression” – Ben Zimmer, American linguist and language columnist.


By: Kimberly Rodrigues

London, Dec 5 (PTI) Goblin mode, or a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations, has been chosen as the Oxford Word of the Year after a public vote on Monday. The slang phrase was one of three shortlisted words put to a vote for the first time, with the others being metaverse or a virtual reality environment and #IStandWith — used on social media to depict solidarity with a cause.

Goblin mode won the online vote by a landslide, with 318,956 votes and 93 per cent of the total. “I think that Goblin Mode really does speak to the times and the zeitgeist, and it is certainly a 2022 expression,” said Ben Zimmer, American linguist and language columnist and one of the panelists who chose the finalists.

“People are looking at social norms in new ways. It gives people the license to ditch social norms and embrace new ones,” he said.

Oxford University Press (OUP) — the publishers of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ — said all three words experienced substantial spikes in usage and capture significant concerns, concepts, and states that we’ve faced this year.

“I think as well as reflecting the extent to which our experience of the world and communication is mediated increasingly by social media and the internet, it also perhaps represents ongoing questions about ownership and regulation on new technologies — especially those means by which we communicate,” Jonathan Dent, Senior Editor, Oxford English Dictionary, OUP.

Describing 2022 as a year that has been characterised by reunion and reconnection after the pandemic and also by activism, and social and political change, OUP decided to open up its annual Oxford Word of the Year for “everyone, everywhere” to have their say on what word best reflects their experience of 2022.

“I’m so excited by this because this is true democracy. English is a democracy; there is no guiding authority telling us what we can say, what we can’t say, what is correct and what is incorrect. This really feels like Word of the Year is going to reflect that authentic approach,” said Susie Dent, popular English author and lexicographer. The Oxford Word of the Year is said to reflect the mood, ethos, and social landscape of that given year.

For most countries, 2022 has meant reuniting with friends and family, gathering for events, and heading back into offices and workplaces.

“By using #IStandWith, people are able to at least show solidarity for something that may be happening hundreds or thousands of miles away,” said Fiona McPherson, Senior Editor, ‘Oxford English Dictionary’, OUP.

“I think this says something quite characteristic about 2022, in that it shows the ways that we’ve come together in solidarity after a difficult number of years. There are still difficulties and horrors in the world, so it’s a way of us coming together and showing solidarity and perhaps expressing how we feel about something,” she said.


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