'NFT' announced as the Collins Dictionary word of the year for 2021

NFTs are sweeping the art and entertainment industries in 2021
NFTs are sweeping the art and entertainment industries in 2021 Copyright 4ARTechnologies/4ARTechnologies
By Tim Gallagher
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Non-fungible tokens pique interest in list that includes 'metaverse' and 'climate anxiety'.


‘NFT’, or non-fungible token, has been revealed as Collins Dictionary’s word of the year.

Collins defines NFTs as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible”.

The technology has captured the imagination of the public after worldwide media attention has focused on their role in the art and entertainment industries.

The uniqueness of NFTs means they make ownership of artworks traceable, and are a way of verifying original copies.

Earlier this year digital artist Beeple sold his work “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS”, a collage of all the images he’d created since he committed to creating an image every day in 2007, at Christies for $69 million (€61 million).

NFTs have proliferated in recent years with musician Grimes, Star-Trek actor William Shatner and NBA star LeBron James all being linked to - and profiting from - the digital phenomenon.

Director Quentin Tarantino is currently in a legal dispute with Miramax over his plan to make NFTs related to the cult film, “Pulp Fiction”.

The unique tokens have also found their way into other industries including wine and gambling.

‘NFT’ is one of three tech words on the longer list of top 10 words of the year by Collins. The other two are ‘metaverse’, defined as a proposed version of the internet that incorporates three-dimensional virtual environments, and ‘crypto’ short for cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency which uses the same blockchain technology as NFTs.

Top 10 dominated by COVID, Climate and cheeky gen Z

COVID-19 has unsurprisingly influenced the Collins top 10 in 2021 with ‘double-vaxxed’, ‘pingdemic’, and ‘hybrid working’ all appearing on the list.

‘Hybrid working’ is a hot topic with the pandemic forcing many to consider their working arrangements. Meanwhile, earlier this year the ‘pingdemic’ forced many into isolation, after they were told they’d been in contact with a positive COVID case by the UK government’s track and trace app.

Vaccination remains a live issue with mandatory vaccines being considered, and implemented, by a number of European states.

Elsewhere, style featured heavily with ‘regency core’ - fashion inspired by the Georgian regency period - taking a top spot, thanks in part to the success of Netflix show Bridgerton. Cheugy, the term given by gen Z to unfashionable trends from the noughties - also placed highly, showing the continued influence of a cheeky younger generation on pop culture.

The same influence probably had an effect on the inclusion of ‘neopronoun’ a term for a recently coined pronoun designed to avoid gender distinctions.

Finally, in the year wildfires, floods and freak snow storms devastated almost every continent on the planet, ‘climate anxiety’ made the Collins list.

‘Climate anxiety’ is believed to be widely suffered by young people and may be slowing the birth-rate in developed countries.

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