Every year, Oxford Dictionaries names a Word of the Year, chosen because it “is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.” The candidates come from software that tracks word usage on the internet, and finalists are chosen by a team of editors and lexicographers. This year the Word of the Year is … vape.
Vape is to the electronic cigarette as smoke is to the cigarette: It’s a verb, meaning to breathe in the vapor produced by the e-cigarette, and a noun referring to the act of vaping or to the device itself. With the popularity of e-cigarettes on the rise, and their associated vape shops, vape lounges, and vape bars, it looks like vaping may continue sending its wispy tendrils through our language for a while.
Here are some of the finalists that vape beat out for the Word of the Year, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries:
Bae: used as a term of endearment for one’s romantic partner.
Budtender: a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.
Contactless: relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc. to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment.
Indyref: an abbreviation of "independence referendum," in reference to the referendum on Scottish independence, held in Scotland on 18 September 2014, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
Normcore: a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.
Slacktivism: actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website; a blend of slacker and activism.
We will surely see some of these again as the year winds down and “Word of the Year” season picks up. What words best capture the year for you?