‘Goblin mode’ is Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year

It’s defined as behaviour that is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, or greedy, in a way that rejects social norms.

A generic picture of an English dictionary and a thesaurus
The Oxford word of the year in 2022 is the slang term 'goblin mode' [File: Catherine Benson/Reuters]

Asked to sum up 2022 in a word, the global public was near-unanimous in its choice of phrase.

Oxford Dictionaries said Monday that “goblin mode” has been selected by an online vote as its word of the year.

It defines the term as “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

First seen on Twitter in 2009, “goblin mode” gained popularity in 2022 as people around the world emerged with uncertainty from lockdowns made compulsory because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point,” said Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Languages, the creator of the Oxford English Dictionary.

“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,” he continued.

Grathwohl pointed to the rise of platforms such as BeReal, where users share images of their unedited selves, often capturing self-indulgent moments in goblin mode.

“People are embracing their inner goblin, and voters choosing ‘goblin mode’ as the word of the year tells us the concept is likely here to stay,” he said.

The word of the year is intended to reflect “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past 12 months”.

For the first time, this year’s winning phrase was chosen by a public vote, from among three finalists selected by Oxford Languages lexicographers: goblin mode, metaverse and the hashtag IStandWith.

Despite being relatively unknown offline, goblin mode was the overwhelming favourite, winning 93 percent of the more than 340,000 votes cast.

The choice is more evidence of a world unsettled after years of pandemic turmoil, and by the huge changes in behaviour and politics brought by social media.

Last week Merriam-Webster announced that its word of the year is “gaslighting” – psychological manipulation intended to make a person question the validity of their own thoughts.

In 2021, the Oxford word of the year was “vax” and Merriam-Webster’s was “vaccine”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies