While doing press in mid-2023, actor Tom Holland (Marvel and Sony’s Spider-Man franchise) was asked by media outlet BuzzFeed about the secret to his “rizz.” Holland answered that he had “no rizz whatsoever.”
While this conversation didn’t originate the word, it was enough to raise its profile. Now, rizz has become Oxford University Press’s Word of the Year.
For those unfamiliar, rizz is a noun and slang term for charisma. Oxford’s official definition notes it as “style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.” It can also be used as a verb: to rizz up a person is to entice them.
Rizz was chosen out of four words that were selected by public vote, with language experts choosing the finalist. Oxford, which publishes the Oxford English Dictionary, declared that rizz was emblematic of a word that can be nourished by a smaller community, particularly via social media, before garnering wider acceptance.
According to CBS, rizz originated with Twitch streamer Kai Cenat, who used it during streams. Cenat said he didn’t consider it short for charisma but that it meant a person had “game.”
Barely registering for most of 2022, it saw greater use in 2023, culminating in an explosion with the Holland interview in June.
Oxford’s other finalists were prompt, or an instruction given to artificial intelligence; situationship, a casual romantic entanglement; and Swiftie, the term adopted by ardent fans of singer Taylor Swift.
Oxford also short-listed a few words for acknowledgement, including beige flag, a spin on red flag that indicates blandness in a partner; de-influencing, or the act of persuading people not to consume goods and services; heat dome, a high-pressure weather system; and parasocial, which denotes a false sense of camaraderie on the part of a celebrity fan.