Oxford Dictionary Picks Its Word of the Year

2022 was the time to go 'goblin mode'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2022 7:04 AM CST
Updated Dec 10, 2022 6:00 AM CST
Oxford Dictionary Picks Its Word of the Year
You don't have to be a goblin, technically, to go 'goblin mode.'   (Getty / IAmGoodPhotography)

The prestigious Oxford English Dictionary put this year's selection of its word of the year in the hands of voters for the first time, and it wasn't a close fight. "Goblin mode" won in a landslide, reports the BBC. For those unfamiliar, the dictionary defines the term as "a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations." The term received 318,956 votes, trouncing the other two finalists metaverse (14,484 votes) and #IStandWith (8,639 votes). It may have helped that PC Gamer magazine made an impassioned appeal to readers to vote for goblin mode after the dictionary's editors chose the three candidates.

“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, tells the New York Times. “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 term has been around since 2009, but it went viral in 2022 in a unique way, as the Guardian explained earlier in the year.

It's a little convoluted, but in February somebody tweeted a fake headline about Julia Fox attributing her breakup with Ye, formerly Kanye West, thusly: "He didn't like it when I went goblin mode." Fox never said that, but the bogus tweet nonetheless went viral, even getting picked up in multiple media outlets. "Just for the record. I have never used the term 'goblin mode,'" Fox later wrote on Instagram. The headlines helped catapult the term into popularity, culminating in the new Oxford distinction. (Other words of the year for 2022 are "gaslighting" and "homer." (More Oxford Word of the Year stories.)

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