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Which Word Epitomizes 2022?

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 17, 2024
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2022 is rapidly drawing to a close, and with the end of the year comes a flurry of “Best of” and “Top 10” lists. Oxford Dictionaries’ “Word of the Year” is often one of the more interesting year-end pronouncements, and this year’s word (or, more accurately, phrase) is certainly no exception.

For the first time, Oxford Dictionaries left the decision-making process up to the public. Site visitors voted for the word that best epitomizes the "ethos, mood or preoccupations" of 2022, and they overwhelmingly chose “goblin mode.” It may seem a bit of a strange choice if you’re unfamiliar with the term, but nearly 319,000 people (around 93% of voters) thought it summed up the past 12 months better than anything else.

Oxford Languages defines “goblin mode” as “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” You can use this slang term by saying "I'm in goblin mode," meaning that you're acting or dressing exactly how you want to, without caring about others' opinions. The term beat out “metaverse” and “#IStandWith” (more of a hashtag than a word) to win the title.

What's the word?

  • Oxford lexicographers chose this year's three contenders by analyzing language trends. Past "Words of the Year" have included vax (2021), climate emergency (2019), and selfie (2013).

  • Merriam-Webster had a very different choice for their word of the year: gaslighting, which they define as "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one's own advantage.”

  • The term "goblin mode" first appeared in 2009 but went viral this year.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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