I was eating my fruit mince pie and sipping my port last night when I read with interest the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year.
Okay, I really just wanted another chance to bang on about how obsessed I am with fruit mince pies. They are my very favourite food at this time of the year and those plump circles of raisins bring me extraordinary amounts of happiness.
My younger friends also make me sound old. Fruit mince pies are ‘old people food’, apparently.
Back to the word of the year and it is ‘rizz’. Rizz is a word young people use as slang for style, charm and attractiveness or the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner. That spawned a crush of memes, as overall usage surged by a factor of about 15 over the previous year, Oxford’s data showed. Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Languages, the dictionary division, says that this year’s choice reflects the way social media has increased the pace of language change exponentially. Plus, he says, the word simply has … rizz.
Oxford’s Word of the Year is based on usage evidence drawn from its continually updated corpus of more than 22 billion words, gathered from news sources across the English-speaking world. The selection, Oxford says, is meant “to reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations” of the preceding year, while also having “potential as a term of lasting cultural significance”.
Usually, Oxford’s lexicographers assemble a shortlist of words or expressions that have seen a statistically relevant surge, and then choose a winner. But in recent years, Oxford has turned the selection process into the lexicographical version of a reality show.
Last year, Oxford let the public vote on three finalists. Goblin mode – a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations – came out on top. It’s like hurkle-durkle: to lay in bed long after you should have got up.
This year, the public was invited to cut the shortlist in half by weighing in on four head-to-head thematic pairings (some 30,000 people voted). Oxford’s team then made the final selection.
So it’s time to shirk work and hurk the dirk and razzle your rizz. Okay … sorry for trying to act cool when I really just want to go back to eating fruit mince pies and drinking my port.