The Oxford Word of the Year is the slang term “goblin mode”. Oxford Languages opened its choice of ‘Word of the Year’ to public vote for the first time in its history. Over the last two weeks, more than 300,000 people cast their votes.
The term “goblin mode” is often used to describe a type of behavior that is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.
The word went viral on social media in February 2022, quickly making its way into newspapers and magazines after being tweeted in a mocked-up headline. I also became popular during the period when the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased and people started coming out of their homes. It, seemingly, captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’.
“Goblin Mode really does speak to the times and the zeitgeist, and it is certainly a 2022 expression. People are looking at social norms in new ways. It gives people the license to ditch social norms and embrace new ones,” Ben Zimmer, American linguist and lexicographer, said while unveiling the word of the year.
A team of expert lexicographers narrowed down a long list of worthy contestants to a final choice of three words — Metaverse, #IStandWith, and goblin mode. We know who actually won.