Word of the Year

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year

Following hot on the heels of ‘selfie’, ‘post-truth’ and ‘omnishambles’, the Oxford Dictionary has awarded ‘youthquake’ the title of ‘Word of the Year’. Oxford Dictionaries define this Word of the Year as, ‘a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’. Usage is also important in determining the top accolade, and youthquake experienced a five-fold increase between 2016 and 2017. This was attributed to the General Election and the increasing mobilisation of young voters, who are often vociferous but traditionally represent the lowest percentage of the actual voting turnout.

2017 Winner: Youthquake

Youthquake is not, however, a new word; it was first coined by the editor of Vogue magazine, Diana Vreeland, who used it in the 1960s to describe how youth culture at that time was influencing both the music and fashion scenes. Nowadays, it is most often used to denote young people’s engagement in politics. It would seem that the word has yet to make the hop across the Atlantic to the US, where its use is very infrequent. It may yet become one of those words, such as ‘Attorney’, which started out in the UK, later travelling to the US only to fall out of favour in the UK, and then be deemed an inappropriate Americanism.


The American dictionary, Merriam Webster, announced that its Word of the Year 2017 was ‘feminism’ as it was the most researched word in its online dictionary, and actual searches for the definition of the word had increased by 70% compared to the previous year. Merriam Webster has defined feminism as, ‘(a) the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes and (b) organised activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests’. Some women, whilst celebrating the influence and recognition of this word and all it stands for, have expressed a level of dismay that the definition of the word is still given as theoretical rather than actual.

Milkshake Duck

The Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English awarded ‘milkshake duck’ its Word of the Year 2017. Coined on Twitter by Australian cartoonist, Ben Ward, in June 2016, its definition in the Macquarie Dictionary is, ‘a person who is initially viewed positively by the media, but is then discovered to have something questionable about them which causes a sharp decline in popularity’.

Word of the Year 2018

Will an emoji be shortlisted or even win the accolade in 2018, as it did in 2015 with “Face with Tears of Joy”. Which words will make the shortlist for Word of the Year 2018? Do you have any favourites?https://www.businesslanguageservices.co.uk/general/5447-word-of-the-year-2015/

Leave a comment


Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what our clients have to say…

Our Clients

Our Accreditations