If You’re Older Than 30, You’ve Probably Never Heard of Oxford’s Word of the Year 2023

If You’re Older Than 30, You’ve Probably Never Heard of Oxford’s Word of the Year 2023

In a fittingly peculiar end to a rather odd year (both literally and figuratively), the publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary have revealed their annual “word of the year,” and it’s one that’s deeply rooted in youth and pop culture.

The 2023 Oxford Word of the Year is “rizz,” and don’t worry if you’ve never heard it before.

The New York Times calls it a “Gen Z slang term,” so if you don’t have any children in your life, nobody would bat an eyelash at you not knowing of the term.

Furthermore, by Oxford’s own admission, the term didn’t even really start cropping up until 2022, and then exploded in use just this year.

Besides, even if you’ve never heard of the term before, you’ve heard the term it’s shorthand for.

“Rizz” is derived from “charisma” and means effectively the same thing, per Oxford: “(n.) style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.”

Oxford notes that “rizz” originating from the middle of “charisma” is a relatively “unusual word formation pattern,” though it does list “fridge” (refrigerator) and “flu” (influenza) as other examples of words with similar etymological origins.

The term “rizz” beat out some other words that did feel particularly relevant to 2023.

“Prompt” was one of the runner-ups, and those are “prompts” in relation to giving artificial intelligence commands.

In perhaps a more ominous sign for 2023, the term “situationship” (a complicated or non-traditional relationship) was also a runner-up term.

And, in a mild surprise, “rizz” also beat out “Swiftie” — the term that self-professed Taylor Swift super fans use to describe themselves.

The annual award is given to “a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest over the last 12 months,” according to Oxford, so the award and its runner-ups (in theory) provide a snapshot into the year.

Last year, the winner was “goblin mode,” a slang term which means “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations,” so perhaps not the best snap shot for any year.

Runner-up terms in 2022 included “metaverse” and “#IStandWith” (including the hashtag.)

In 2021, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Oxford Word of the Year was “vax” and all of its permutations (“vaxxed,” “vax sites” and “vax cards,” etc.)

Interestingly, and justifiably, the award looked a little different in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns drastically altered the world. In 2020 the Word of the Year was the “Words of an unprecedented year” and was more of just a macro look at how the world changed.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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