When asked to choose one word to describe 2022, the global public’s response was remarkably consistent.
“Goblin mode” was chosen as the year’s word by an online vote, according to a Monday announcement from Oxford Dictionaries.
“A type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations,” the dictionary defines the term.
The term “goblin mode,” first used on Twitter in 2009, gained notoriety in 2022 as people all over the world emerged from mandatory lockdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic with uncertainty.
Ben Zimmer, an American linguist and lexicographer, remarked at a special event to reveal this year’s methodology for choosing the Oxford Word of the Year: “Goblin Mode really does speak to the times and the zeitgeist, and it is certainly a 2022 expression. People are looking at social norms in new ways. It gives people the license to ditch social norms and embrace new ones.”
“Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point,” Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Languages, the creator of the Oxford English Dictionary, as saying.
“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 cited the expansion of social media sites like BeReal, where individuals post pictures of their unfiltered selves and frequently record hedonistic moments in goblin mode.
People are “embracing their inner goblin,” he said, and the fact that “goblin mode” was chosen by voters as the term of the year indicates that this idea is probably here to stay.
The word of the year is chosen to think about “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past 12 months”.
Goblin mode, metaverse, and the hashtag IStandWith were the three finalists chosen by Oxford Languages lexicographers, and this year’s winning phrase was for the first time decided by a public vote.
Goblin mode, although being almost unheard of offline, was the clear favourite, with 93% of the more than 340,000 votes cast.
The decision is further proof that the world is unsteady following years of pandemic unrest and the profound changes in politics and behaviour brought about by social media.
Last week, Merriam-Webster declared “gaslighting” to be the word of the year. This psychological trick aims to make someone doubt their own beliefs.
The Merriam-Webster and Oxford words of the year for 2021 were “vax” and “vaccine,” respectively.