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This is the first time in the history of the Oxford University Press Team that the public decided on the Word of the Year.
As dictionaries try to sum up the year 2022 in a word, the word ‘Metaverse’ came in second place as the Oxford Word of the Year. The Oxford University Press announced ‘Goblin mode’ as the Word for the year, while #Istandwith came in third place.
The phrase ‘Goblin mode’ first gained traction in February as countries lifted COVID-19 lockdown protocols and people grappled with the idea of a return to normal life. On its part, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine popularised #Istandwith, but it has since turned forth various other versions.
Public Chose the Word of the Year
This is the first time in the history of the Oxford University Press Team that the public decided on the Word of the Year. Users were allowed to vote on their top word choice after a group of lexicographers trimmed down the list from millions to three. Over 300,000 people voted with crypto community members, leading the votes for the metaverse.
According to Oxford’s research, the use of metaverse quadrupled in 2022 compared to its usage in 2021. There are suggestions that this may be a direct result of Facebook’s rebranding efforts in 2021. Recall that in October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook was pivoting and would now focus its efforts on the metaverse. It also rebranded to Meta to show this change in focus.
Redefining a Not-so-New Concept
Zuckerberg may have made the idea of a metaverse more popular, but he didn’t invent the word. According to the video pitch on Metaverse, The term was first used by the author of the science fiction novel, Snow Crash, released in 1992.
According to Oxford Languages, the metaverse refers to a ‘virtual world where people can live, work, shop, eat, and make friends.” Further, it said, “As we grapple with relatively new concepts like hybrid working in the virtual reality space, the metaverse is particularly pertinent to debates about the ethics and feasibility of an entirely online future.”
Despite the setbacks in the industry in 2022, the usage of the word metaverse will continue to grow as the idea gains traction in society and more debate about its viability continues.