‘Rizz’ crowned Oxford University Press’ Word of the Year 2023

The English language is ever-changing and evolving — with the establishment of new words or the resurgence of lapsed terms — a concept reflected in the winner of the Oxford Word of the Year 2023, ‘rizz’.

The lengthy selection process for the competition saw a shortlist of eight words and phrases, selected to reflect the mood, ethos, or concerns from the past year, before being put head-to-head in a series of competitions to narrow down to four finalists. Over the four-day voting period —taking place on the official Instagram account of Oxford University Press — 32,000 votes were cast, with the contenders left standing being:

  • Swiftie (n.): an enthusiastic fan of American singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift.

  • Rizz (n.): style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.

  • Prompt (n.): an instruction given to an artificial intelligence program, algorithm, etc., which determines or influences the content it generates.

  • Situationship (n.): a romantic or sexual relationship that is not considered to be formal or established.

Taking into consideration the public vote, corpus data, and the wider public commentary, the emergent winner was ‘rizz’ — a shortened form of ‘charisma’, taken from the middle of the word, similar to fridge and flu from refrigerator and influenza, respectively.

The term also received a nod from American publisher, Merriam-Webster, in its own top words of the year shortlist, but was pipped by ‘authentic’.

Joining the previous winners,‘goblin mode’, ‘vax’ and ‘unprecedented’, the word has attracted a great deal of interest within the past year on social media —predominantly adopted by Generation Z, increasing its popularity at a rarely seen rate.

Commenting on the winning phrase, president of Oxford Languages, Casper Grathwohl, said: “Rizz is a term that has boomed on social media and speaks to how language that enjoys intense popularity and currency within particular social communities… can bleed into the mainstream.”

“The spike in usage data for ‘rizz’ goes to prove that words and phrases that evolve from internet culture are increasingly becoming part of day-to-day vernacular and will continue to shape language trends in the future.”

Looking into the not-so-distant future of 2024, what trends will emerge throughout the year to earn the title ‘Oxford Word of the Year 2024’?

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Written by Lauren Boyles