What Would You Pick as Word of the Year?

What Would You Pick as Word of the Year?

What one word or phrase best sums up 2022 in your opinion? Why?

Every year the Oxford English Dictionary selects a “word of the year” that is meant “to reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations” of the previous year. For 2022, the publisher chose “goblin mode.”

In “The Word of the Year Goes Goblin Mode,” Jennifer Schuessler writes about the decision:

A year ago, the lexicographic grandees at Oxford Languages dutifully stuck out their arms and chose “vax” as the 2021 Word of the Year.

But this year, the venerable publisher behind the Oxford English Dictionary has — like the rest of us, apparently — gone full goblin mode.

“Goblin mode” — a slang term referring to “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations” — has been named Oxford’s 2022 Word of the Year.

Yes, you read that right. Following a landslide online popular vote, an in-joke that surged to prominence thanks to a satirical viral tweet involving an actress, a rapper and a doctored headline has been named 2022’s One Word to Rule Them All.

“New words catch on when they capture our imagination, or fill a hole with a word for a concept we need to express,” Katherine Connor Martin, product director at Oxford Languages, said in a telephone interview. “What ‘goblin mode’ tells me is it resonated with the feeling that the pandemic is over, but we’re still grappling with it. Do we want to go back to the notions of respectability of the prepandemic world?”

The Word of the Year is based on usage evidence drawn from Oxford’s continually updated corpus of more than 19 billion words, gathered from news sources across the English-speaking world. The selection, according to Oxford, is meant “to reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations” of the preceding year, while also having “potential as a term of lasting cultural significance.”

Normally, Oxford’s lexicographers assemble a list of words that had a statistically relevant surge, then choose one. This year, they took a more populist approach, announcing a short list of three — “goblin mode,” “#IStandWith” and “metaverse” — and then throwing it to a two-week online public vote.

The article also notes other dictionaries’ choices:

Other dictionary companies have gone with more conventional choices. This year, Merriam-Webster chose “gaslighting” (based on a 1,740 percent surge in look-ups on its website). Cambridge Dictionaries went with “homer,” which was among the many five-letter words that surged this year thanks to Wordle. (On May 5, when “homer” was the winning word, look-ups — many presumably by non-Americans — spiked to 65,000.)

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • What is your choice for word of the year? Explain why you think this word or phrase reflects the important issues, mood or culture of 2022.

  • What do you think of Oxford’s choice of “goblin mode” as the word of the year? Do you like the other words on its shortlist, “metaverse” and “#IStandWith,” better? What about Merriam-Webster’s choice of “gaslighting” or Cambridge Dictionaries’ choice of “homer”? Do any of these accurately capture 2022, in your opinion?

  • Has the term “goblin mode” applied to your life at all this year? If so, in what way?

  • What words or ideas do you think will dominate conversations, and online searches, in 2023?

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public and may appear in print.

Find more Student Opinion questions here. Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate these prompts into your classroom.

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