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For almost two decades, the Oxford Word of the Year has reflected the mood, ethos, and social landscape of that given year. During 2022, the world gradually reopened. For most countries, this has meant reuniting with friends and family, gathering for events, and heading back into offices and workplaces.

2022 has been a year that has not only been characterized by reunion and reconnection, but also by activism, and social and political change. In recognition of this, we are opening up this year’s Oxford Word of the Year for everyone, everywhere to have their say on what word best reflects their experience of 2022.

The news was unveiled in an exclusive virtual press event chaired by English lexicographer and broadcaster Susie Dent. We were joined by language experts to discuss why, in a year underpinned by change, OUP has adopted a different approach to choosing its Word of the Year for 2022.

We also revealed the three candidates as chosen by our language experts, after carrying out their annual duties of researching and reviewing this year’s lexicon. The finalists that will be put to a public vote include:

  • metaverse n.

A (hypothetical) virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way, sometimes posited as a potential extension of or replacement for the internet, World Wide Web, social media, etc.

  • #IStandWith

Used on social media to express solidarity with a specified cause, group, person, etc.

  • Goblin Mode n.

slang. A type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations; frequently in in goblin mode or go goblin mode.

All three words experienced substantial spikes in usage and capture significant concerns, concepts, and states that we’ve faced this year.

During the Oxford Word of the Year event, Susie Dent praised the fresh approach to this year’s process: “I’m so excited by this because this is true democracy. English is a democracy; there is no guiding authority telling us what we can say, what we can’t say, what is correct and what is incorrect. This really feels like Word of the Year is going to reflect that authentic approach. I love it.”

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing insights into the grammatical and linguistic behaviour of the words across our social media channels, asking the public to cast their vote and answer the question: Are you #Teammetaverse, #TeamGoblinMode, or #TeamIStandWith?

Voting is now open across OUP’s social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) and website.

We will monitor the conversation closely and reveal the winner of the Oxford Word of the Year 2022 on 5th December. Evidenced by the experts at Oxford and chosen by you, English speakers everywhere.