Oxford Dictionaries announces 2018’s word of the year

In the waning weeks of 2018 there will be countless year-end reflections on the many events that unfolded – from the inspiring to the infuriating.

And if there were a way to describe 2018 in a word, in a term that would file all the disparate pieces into one neat folder, Oxford Dictionaries has the answer.

Oxford University Press, the publisher of Oxford Dictionaries, announced “The Oxford Word of the Year 2018 is… toxic.”

“The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance,” the Oxford Dictionaries website explained.

“In 2018, toxic added many strings to its poisoned bow becoming an intoxicating descriptor for the year’s most talked about topics. It is the sheer scope of its application, as found by our research, that made toxic the stand-out choice for the Word of the Year title,” Oxford continued.

The word, which was used in a variety of literal and figurative ways, saw an increase of 45 percent more searches on oxforddicitionaries.com in this year, the publisher noted.

The top two most-used words in association with “toxic” were “Chemical” and “masculinity” with others including relationship and culture.

Oxford Dictionaries explained:

Our corpus data shows that, after ‘chemical’, ‘masculinity’ is the most-used word in conjunction with toxic this year. With the #MeToo movement putting a cross-industry spotlight on toxic masculinity, and watershed political events like the Brett Kavanaugh Senate judiciary committee hearing sparking international debate, the term toxic masculinity has well and truly taken root in the public consciousness and got people talking in 2018.

 

“Toxic masculinity’ has been the second most-talked about ‘toxic’ topic in 2018,” the publisher revealed, citing the #MeToo movement as part of the cause.

Other “toxic” phrases also gained momentum such as toxic substance, toxic gas, and toxic waste.

Last year’s Word of the Year, “youthquake,” was certainly lighter than 2018’s winner, which Oxford Dictionaries credited pop singer Britney Spears with helping to take off.

And while “toxic” secured the first place spot of reflecting the “ethos, mood, or preoccupations” of 2018, it was not the only one to get the publisher’s attention this year.

Twitter users reacted to the sobering news.

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Frieda Powers

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