People around the world found themselves navigating life after COVID restrictions in 2022 – and a new ranking has crowned the joke phrase “goblin mode” as the term that sums up what the experience was like.
This year’s designation of the Oxford word of the year – a term or phrase that captures the zeitgeist of the past 12 months – showed that, for English speakers, a pushback against demanding movements like the hustle culture has permeated our lives.
Oxford University Press, which runs the campaign, announced “goblin mode” as its 2022 winner on Monday.
The phrase is defined by linguistic analysts at Oxford as “a type of behavior that is indulgent, lazy, neglectful, or greedy, usually in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”.
The organization said more than 300,000 people had voted in the past two weeks after the decision on this year’s winner was made public for the first time since the campaign began in 2004.
Although the phrase dates back to 2009, it went viral earlier this year via a fake headline about actress Julia Fox’s split from Kanye West. The “goblin mode” then found itself featured in newspapers around the world.
Oxford experts said the term grew in popularity over the following months as many countries eased their COVID restrictions and people began to leave their homes more regularly.
Content linked to the #goblinmode hashtag has over 14 million views on TikTok and is often seen as a rebuttal of the platform “That girl” trend.
“Apparently this captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’ or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic norms and unsustainable lifestyles exposed on the networks. social,” Oxford University Press said in its Word of the Year announcement on Monday. .
The metaverse and online solidarity protests
“Goblin mode” would have won the 2022 vote by a landslide, getting 93% of the total votes.
In second place was the “metaverse”, which was defined as “a (hypothetical) virtual reality environment in which users interact with each other avatars and their environment in an immersive way, sometimes presented as a potential extension or replacement of internet. Broad web, social media, etc.
While the first recorded use of “metaverse” by the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1992, its use quadrupled between 2021 and 2022 when the word was popularized by Meta, formerly known as Facebook, and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. .
Third place went to “#IStandWith,” a hashtag that gained popularity in 2022 among social media users expressing solidarity with specific people, groups or causes. Despite its place on this year’s list, the phrase “to stand with” someone in the context of taking their side or supporting them dates back to the 14e century, according to the University of Oxford.
“An Expression of 2022”
Speaking at a special Word of the Year launch event last month, Ben Zimmer, an American linguist and lexicographer, said the winning phrase “really speaks to the era and the air of the time, and it is certainly an expression of 2022”.
“People are looking at social norms in a new way,” he said. “[‘Goblin mode’] gives people the opportunity to abandon social norms and embrace new ones.
When the Word of the Year winner was announced on Monday, Casper Grathwohl, chairman of Oxford Languages, said in a statement that organizers were taken aback by the level of public engagement in the campaign.
“Given the year we’ve just had, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point,” he said. “It’s a relief to recognize that we’re not always the idealized, organized selves we’re encouraged to showcase on our Instagram and TikTok feeds. People are embracing their inner goblin, and voters are choosing ‘goblin mode’ as the word of the year tells us that the concept is probably here to stay.
Oxford University Press describes its Word of the Year as “a word or phrase reflecting the ethos, mood or concerns of the past twelve months, which has potential as a term of enduring cultural significance”.
Its editors create a shortlist by tracking data that monitors actual language usage, naming Word of the Year candidates as they emerge and become increasingly prominent.
Last year’s Oxford word of the year was “vax”, reflecting the conversation around COVID-19 vaccines, while in 2020, the year the coronavirus outbreak became a global pandemic, Oxford experts published a special report on the use of language in what they said was ‘not a year that could perfectly be accommodated in one [word].”
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