Home Opinion and Features ‘Goblin mode’ voted word of the year

‘Goblin mode’ voted word of the year

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The world has a new term reflecting another torrid year: “goblin mode”. The term has officially been added to the English language after the public voted overwhelmingly in favour of it in the annual tradition of the Oxford University Press choosing the Oxford Word of the Year 2022.

THE WORLD has a new term reflecting another torrid year: “goblin mode”.

The term has officially been added to the English language after the public voted overwhelmingly in favour of “goblin mode” in the annual tradition of the Oxford University Press (OUP) choosing the Oxford Word of the Year 2022.

The expression outdid “metaverse” and “#IStandWith”, which only got 4% and 3% of the votes respectively.

OUP defines “goblin mode” as a slang term often used in the expressions “in goblin mode” or “to go goblin mode”. It describes it as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”.

The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression which reflects the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past 12 months. Previous words have included “vax” (2021), “climate emergency” (2019) and “selfie” (2013).

Organisers say 340,000 people worldwide cast their vote while an infinite number debated the merit of the finalists through Oxford’s social media outlets.

OUP said: “Supported by evidence of real language usage, Oxford’s editors track candidates as they emerge throughout the year, analysing frequency statistics and other language data in the Oxford English Corpus.”

This year, OUP invited the public to vote for the first time. “Goblin mode” garnered 318,956 votes, which was 93% of the overall vote.

OUP says while the term was first seen on Twitter in 2009, it went viral on social media in February and then made its way into print media.

It says “goblin mode” was initially tweeted in a mocked-up headline and the term rose in popularity in subsequent months as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased and people around the world ventured out of their homes more often.

Oxford Languages president Casper Grathwohl said they had hopes people would enjoy being part of the process, but the level of engagement with the campaign was a total surprise.

“Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s a relief to acknowledge that we’re not always the idealised, curated selves that we’re encouraged to present on our Instagram and TikTok feeds. This has been demonstrated by the dramatic rise of platforms like BeReal, where users share images of their unedited selves, often capturing self-indulgent moments in goblin mode,” said Grathwohl.

OUP says the Oxford Corpus lists many vivid examples of goblin mode, including “‘goblin mode’ is like when you wake up at 2am and shuffle into the kitchen wearing nothing but a long T-shirt to make a weird snack, like melted cheese on saltines”.

“Metaverse”, in second place, gained traction with crypto communities.

It said the first recorded use of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1992 in the science fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. Until late last year, there was little use of “metaverse” apart from specialist contexts, but by October it had increased almost fourfold from the previous year and this could be partly attributed to the name change of Facebook.

The experts say that “#IStandWith”, which came third in the voting, emerged in the first decade of the 21st century. However, data from social media and the Oxford Corpus show that “#IStandWith” and variants became “significantly more frequent and prominent” after Russia invaded Ukraine in March this year. Phrases used frequently this year included #IStandWithUkraine and #StandWithUkraine.

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