What is Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year by popular vote? The word is Goblin. This is the first, and maybe the last, the word of the year has been decided by popular vote.
People chose the word that captured “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past twelve months,” according to a press release from Oxford Languages. The other two finalists were “meta verse” and “#IStandWith.” But “Goblin” won 93% of the more than 300,000 votes.
Oxford English Dictionary defines goblin mode, a slang 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.” It’s most often used in a sentence as “in goblin mode” or “to go goblin mode.”
The term was first seen on Twitter in 2009, but it started becoming popular online in February 2022.
“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. Seemingly, it 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,” the release explained.
The Guardian wrote this about the popular word, “Goblin mode is like when you wake up at 2 a.m. and shuffle into the kitchen wearing nothing but a long T-shirt to make a weird snack, like melted cheese on saltines,” he said. “It’s about a complete lack of aesthetic. Because why would a goblin care what they look like? Why would a goblin care about presentation?”
Oxford Languages president Casper Grathwohl said the popularity of this word shows how much COVID-19 has shaped culture over the past two years.
“Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point,” he said. “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 … 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.”