Oxford Shortlists Metaverse as 2022’s Word of the Year

The publisher describes the metaverse as a “virtual reality environment in which users can interact with one another’s avatar in an immersive way.”
Image source: citi.com

Quick take:

  • The Oxford University Press (OUP) has shortlisted “Metaverse”  as 2022’s word of the year.
  • The other two words competing for this year’s WOTY award are ‘goblin mode’ and ‘#IStandWith’. 
  • OUP is giving users the chance to vote for this year’s WOTY with the vote closing on Dec 2, and the winner revealed on Dec 5.

The Oxford University Press (OUP) has shortlisted “metaverse” as 2022’s word of the year (WOTY). The other two words that are competing for the prestigious search engine activity title are ‘goblin mode’, and ‘#IStandWith’.

The publisher has decided to hand the world an opportunity to vote for 2022’s WOTY. In a statement last week explaining its decision to alter the process this year, Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages attributed the decision to the world coming out of the Covid era.

“Over the past year the world reopened, and it is in that spirit we’re opening up the selection process for the word of the year to language-lovers everywhere,” he said. “We are all participants in the evolving story of English, and after making it through another hard year we thought word-lovers would appreciate being brought into the process with us.”

The although word metaverse isn’t as unexpected as last year’s winner, ‘vax’, some of its competitors are quite the image of the direction the world is taking in terms of communication.

‘Goblin Mode’  is a slang designating word for behaviour that OUP describes as being “unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

On the other hand, ‘#IStandWith’  is used to express solidarity online. The unusual part about this word phrase is the # (hashtag), which is commonly used on social media platforms to quote keywords in a trending conversation.

Senior editor at OUP Fiona McPherson explained the inclusion of hashtags in the WOTY awards as being “an important feature” because of current language usage, adding that people are already referencing hashtags in spoken and written English.

According to McPherson and fellow senior editor Jonathan Dent, “platty jubes” and “quiet quitting” were also discussed for inclusion in the shortlist.

However, OUP data showed that the three selected experienced a significant spike in usage, also “capturing one of the preoccupations of the year.”Voting for the three words is already underway via OUP’s WOTY page with over 325k votes cast as of this writing.


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