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Do you bubble with ‘rizz’

Opinion

Do you bubble with ‘rizz’

Jane Stephens considers the evolution of language as the world’s dictionary boffins announce 2023’s Word of the Year winners and nominations.

I love our language and the creativity that comes with wordplay, phrase evolution and expressions of the vernacular.

I have never been one to think old-school words are always better and must be kept in use, although the romance and feel of so many of them appeal to me.

As a communication academic, I believe clarity and the meaning in the message are more important than preserving the way things once were. Nothing in culture was ever advanced by looking backwards, after all. As a word lover, I am in clover in December, when announcements are made about the Word of the Year for different dictionaries and nations.

Recently, it was announced that for 2023, the UK Oxford Dictionary had declared the word ‘rizz’ the one above all others – the best, the pick, the bomb diggity.

The creation is a shortening of the word charisma, without its front and back.

It is apparently in regular use out there in cool people land and it peaked in June after a Buzzfeed interview with Spider-Man star Tom Holland, who claimed he had no rizz whatsoever.

Rizz: in 2023, some have it, some don’t and some spread the word about it.

Among the shortlisted words for that reference book were: ‘prompt’ – an instruction given to an artificial intelligence program or algorithm that influences the content it generates; ‘de-influencing’ – the practice of discouraging people from buying certain products; and ‘beige flag’ – a warning signal that indicates a romantic interest is boring or lacks originality. My favourite finalist was ‘Swiftie’ – a term for a fan of superstar songstress Taylor Swift.

Previous Oxford winners for Word of the Year were vax and youthquake.

Last year’s Word of the Year was goblin mode – behaviour that is unapologetically lazy or slovenly. The US’s most-esteemed Merriam-Webster Dictionary selected ‘authentic’ for this year. Collins Dictionary chose ‘AI’.

The Macquarie Dictionary – Australia’s official national dictionary – also shortlisted rizz this year but selected ‘cozzie livs’ – a shortening of cost of living. We communicate increasingly in abbreviations, it seems. These words and phrases may be a long way from the polished and posh words of yore, but there is so much to love about our glorious, ever-evolving language.

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