Oxford Dictionary Word Of The Year Is Something No One’s Heard Of

by : Francesca Donovan on : 15 Dec 2017 11:53

The folks over at Oxford Dictionary have announced their word of the year and everyone is pretty shaken up with their decision.

Days after Merriam Webster were praised widely for dubbing ‘feminism’ the word of the year – 365 days during which feminism has been more than a bit of a talking point – the Oxford Dictionaries have weighed in too.

The word of 2017, according to the people who understand words the best, is… Drumroll… ‘Youthquake’:


…Tumbleweed? Is that a verb? How does one youthquake?

If you’ve never, ever, heard of a ‘youthquake’, fear not for your vocabulary. You’re not alone. No one has a clue what the word means.

According to the wordsmiths, who publish their findings via the Oxford University Press, the word means:


A significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.

Oxford Dictionaries’ Casper Grathwohl said it was ‘not an obvious choice’ but claimed the use of the word ‘youthquake’ in everyday speech had increased five-fold during 2017… Presumably from zero times to five.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines youthquake as the ‘series of radical political and cultural upheavals occurring among students and young people in the 1960s’.


Apparently, it was first coined in the 1960s by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, who used it to describe sudden changes in fashion, music and attitudes.

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Grathwohl continued:

In the UK, where it rose to prominence as a descriptor of the impact of the country’s young people on its general election, calls it out as a word on the move.


In principle, the choice is a good one.


This year kicked off with thousands of women marching on Washington after reality TV star and businessman Donald Trump was elected to the presidential office.

Millions of young social media users spoke out in a tidal wave of tweets against sexual harassment as part of the #MeToo campaign.


Young British voters rallied support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to deliver better-than-expected results for the party.


It’s just a shame the Oxfordians seem to have made up a word to illustrate the young people power we’ve witnessed this year.

Twitter has reacted accordingly, and strangely enough, I think it’s fair to say the lexicographers’ decision has actually cause a bit of a youthquake online.

Someone did some research about how many people have googled the word up until now:

Others suggested alternative words, like ‘the’.

It is wildly underrated considering its usage, to be fair:

The appropriate memes and GIFs were used to illustrate everyone’s shock, dismay and confusion:

Others were just baffled at where the word came from:

Others pointed out the choice seemed a little off – kind of like when your mum pretends to understand ‘The YouTube’ or sends out ‘A Twitter’.

Viral hilarity ensued:

Other words in the running, according to the BBC, were ‘antifa’, a short word for anti-fascist, ‘broflake’, a man who is readily upset by progressive attitudes, from the derogatory use of ‘snowflake’, ‘kompromat’, the Russian term for material used in blackmail, and ‘unicorn’, in the context of an adjective, or the practice of adding rainbow colours to things like bagels and donuts.

Another contender was ‘milkshake duck’ which apparently means a person or character on social media that appears to be endearing at first, but is found to have an unappealing back story.

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Last year’s word ‘post-truth’ was chosen after the 2016 Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.

Topics: Life


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