'Goblin mode' is Oxford Dictionary's word of the year

Oxford Dictionary sign
Oxford Dictionary sign Patrick Whittemore/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The Oxford Dictionary has named "goblin mode" its word of the year. The term is defined as "a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations."

The phrase was chosen via an online vote, beating out short-listers, "#IStandWith" and "metaverse." It won in a landslide, garnering 93 percent of the votes, BBC writes. "Having a group of people in Oxford choose it always felt weirdly undemocratic," said Katherine Connor Martin, product director at Oxford Languages. The overwhelming victory of "goblin mode" came following a piece from the website PC Gamer which encouraged voters to reject "society's stifling norms," adding, "the metaverse that CEOs want to sell you is awful."

The slang term emerged in 2009 but went viral this year, following the slowdown of the pandemic where people didn't want to go back to how things were before. "Given the year we've just experienced, 'goblin mode' resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point," commented Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages.

In order to select the words, Oxford lexicographers shortlist words based on usage, focusing on the "mood" of the world as well as its potential for longevity and cultural significance, The New York Times reports. Last year's winner was "vax" following the movement to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Martin explained, "New words catch on when they capture our imagination or fill a hole with a word for a concept we need to express."

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