Oxford Children's Word of the Year : Oxford University Press

Oxford Children's Word of the Year


For over a decade lexicographers, publishers and editors from Oxford University Press have been tracking changes in children’s language, vocabulary and self-expression and providing insights into children's evolving use of language.

Each year OUP publishes a language report on children’s engagement with topics ranging from politics, climate change, and natural disasters to books, films, music, technology, and their favourite sports and celebrities. As part of this analysis, OUP announces the Children’s Word of the Year, throwing light on the changing language.

Previous Oxford Children’s Word of the Year include coronavirus (2020), Brexit (2019), plastic (2018), Trump (2017), and refugee (2016).

Word of the Year 2021: Anxiety

Oxford Children's Language Report 2020
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2021 Oxford Children's Language Report

8,000 children were surveyed and asked to choose the words they would use when talking about health and wellbeing. This new Oxford Children’s Language Report 2021 shows significant growth in vocabulary of mental health and wellbeing in children’s language with the top choice for word of the year being anxiety. Teachers are finding young people better able to express their feelings in the classroom in the wake of the pandemic, school closures, and isolation.


“Children are familiar with a lot more vocabulary linked to health and wellbeing and are able to describe their feelings and thoughts in more detail than before lockdowns.” Teacher

“Having conversations and using the right language is incredibly important when supporting children if they are feeling anxious, isolated or going through tough challenges, and it’s also crucial children are able to express how they are feeling.” Joe Jenkins, The Children’s Society.


Previous Oxford Children's Word of the Year Reports

Oxford Children's Language Report 2020

2020: Coronavirus

Download the Oxford Corpus Children's Language Report for 2020.

Oxford Children's Languge Report 2020: Black Lives Matter

BLM 2020: Protest

Download the Black Lives Matter Oxford Corpus Children's Language Report for 2020.

Oxford Children's Language Report 2019

2019: Brexit

Download the Oxford Corpus Children's Language Report for 2019.