‘Goblin mode’ has been announced as the Oxford word of the year for 2022.
The term, defined as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”, is the first word of the year to have been chosen by the public, with an overwhelming 93 per cent of the overall vote.
The phrase garnered 318,965 nominations to comfortably beat ‘Metaverse’ into second place, followed by the social media hashtag ‘#IStandWith’.
The president of Oxford Languages, Casper Grathwohl, said that the popularity of the public “being brought into the process” had caught the organisation “totally by surprise”.
“Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point”, he said. “It’s a relief to acknowledge that we’re not always the idealised, curated selves that we’re encouraged to present on our Instagram and TikTok feeds.
“This has been demonstrated by the dramatic rise of platforms like BeReal where users share images of their unedited selves, often capturing self-indulgent moments in goblin mode.”
The ‘goblin community’ has spoken!
We’re pleased to announce goblin mode as the #OxfordWOTY 2022.
Read more about this year’s winning choice here #TeamGoblinMode: https://t.co/NmC2UYau3U pic.twitter.com/yqQ9eIlIeQ
— Oxford University Press (@OxUniPress) December 5, 2022
The use of ‘Goblin mode’ goes as far back as 2009, but went viral on social media in February 2022 after being deployed in a satirical headline – which became associated with Julia Fox and Kanye West – and has since become synonymous with a self-deprecating rebuttal of hustle culture and carefully curated personal presentation online.
“Seemingly, it captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’ [post-lockdown],” the OUP noted, “or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media.”
The American linguist and lexicographer Ben Zimmer said (via The Guardian): “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 people the licence to ditch social norms and embrace new ones.”
Collins, meanwhile, opted for ‘permacrisis’, while Cambridge Dictionaries chose ‘homer’, which went viral earlier in the year due its appearance in the online game Wordle.