I was eating my fruit mince pie and sipping my port last night when I read with interest the word of the year according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Okay, I really just wanted another chance to bang on about the fact 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. And 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 or 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, according to Oxford’s data. Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Languages, the dictionary division, said that this year’s choice reflects the way social media has increased the pace of language change exponentially. Plus, he said, 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, according to Oxford, 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 saw 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” came out on top, because 2022.) This year, the public was invited to cut the shortlist list in half by weighing in on four head-to-head thematic pairings. (Some 30,000 people voted, Oxford said.) Oxford’s team then made the final selection.
Hurkle durkle to lay in bed long after you should have got up
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.
One pairing, “Swiftie” vs. “de-influencing,” related to celebrity culture. Others reflected personal characteristics (“rizz” vs. “beige flag,” a characteristic suggesting a partner is boring), the changing world (“prompt” vs. “heat dome”) and relationships (“parasocial” vs. “situationship”).