Oxford Dictionaries has named ‘goblin mode’ as its word of the year, summing up 2022 in one lexical item.


The publisher, on Monday, said it selected the phrase after online votes by more than 300,000 public members.

The dictionary publisher defined goblin mode 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 term “goblin mode” is believed to have gained popularity in 2022 amid the uncertainties of post-pandemic life.


Oxford said, although it was first seen on Twitter in 2009, goblin mode went viral on social media in February.

It quickly made 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 restrictions eased in many countries.


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 online.

Speaking on the selection, Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, said: “Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point.”

Speaking at an event to announce this year’s selection, Ben Zimmer, an American linguist & lexicographer, pointed out: “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 the license to ditch social norms and embrace new ones.”


The word of the year, it is understood, is meant to portray “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations” of 12 months prior.

Oxford’s selection comes about a week after Merriam-Webster announced its word of the year as “gaslighting”.

In 2021, the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year was “vax” while that of Merriam-Webster’s was “vaccine.”


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