Public votes 'goblin mode' as Oxford Word of the Year 2022

The Green Goblin from the Spider-Man universe would be pleased with 2022's Oxford Word of the Year
The Green Goblin from the Spider-Man universe would be pleased with 2022's Oxford Word of the Year Copyright Marvel
Copyright Marvel
By David Mouriquand
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The public has spoken! And the winner is… Goblin mode.


After opening the choice up to English speakers for the first time in its history, over the last two weeks more than 300,000 people cast their vote for the 2022 Oxford Word of the Year.

And the winner is… 'Goblin mode'.
What is goblin mode?

Goblin what?

‘Goblin mode’ is a slang term referring to "a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations."

Although first seen on Twitter in 2009, the term went viral on social media in February 2022, quickly making its way into newspapers and magazines after being tweeted in a mocked-up headline.

The term then rose in popularity over the months following as Covid lockdown restrictions eased in many countries and people ventured out of their homes more regularly.

Oxford Languages
Frequency of use of 'goblin mode'Oxford Languages

Speaking at a special event to announce this year’s approach to selecting the Oxford Word of the Year, Ben Zimmer, American linguist and lexicographer, said: “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.”

Indeed, the term seems to have captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’, or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media.

“Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘Goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point," adds Casper Grathwohl, President, Oxford Languages. 

"It’s a relief to acknowledge that we’re not always the idealized, 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. 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.”

The term ‘metaverse’ came in second place - describing "a (hypothetical) virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way, sometimes posited as a potential extension of or replacement for the internet and social media." 

'#IStandWith' came in third – a hashtag used on social media to express solidarity with a specific cause, group, or person, with frequent uses this year include #IStandWithUkraine and #StandWithUkraine.

Additional sources • Oxford Dictionaries

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