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2022’s Words of the year

Updated: Jan 22

By Tresten Yokotake


Photo courtesy Lindsey Millerd

Words are an essential aspect of our everyday lives. Without them, we’d be communicating with each other like drunken mimes in times square. There are those certain words that are constantly used and eventually become ingrained into the collective psyche. Identifying popular words can help capture the values and attitudes of populations at different points in time.


Recently, the English department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa selected ‘in-person’ as the word of the year since there was an increase in in-person gatherings in 2022. ‘In-person’ is commonly used with many people being back together physically at school, work, and social gatherings after being unable to attend in-person due to COVID-19. A contender for word of the year was ‘micro-affections,’ which are the small but important ways we affirm each other in our everyday interactions. The previous words of the years selected by the English department were ‘care’ in 2021 and ‘resilience’ in 2020.


The Merriam - Webster dictionary selected ‘gaslighting’ as 2022’s word of the year. According to the Merriam - Webster dictionary, gaslighting is defined as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for a personal advantage.” The previous word of the years selected by Merriam Webster were ‘vaccine’ in 2021 and ‘pandemic’ in 2020.


The Oxford English Dictionary chose the phrase ‘goblin mode’ as 2022’s word of the year. For those that don't know, goblin mode is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” The way they selected this word of the year was by a public vote. There were two contenders and they were #IStandWith and ‘metaverse.’


While 2022 was somewhat hectic for all of us, the return of in-person gatherings was an upside to the year, allowing people to socialize face-to face instead of over zoom. Words like ‘in-person’ have become significant parts of our lives and will represent the year when looking back. To end with a quote by Rita Mae Brown, “Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”

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