Oxford Dictionaries said watershed political events like the Brett Kavanaugh Senate judiciary committee hearing sparked international debate, landing the term “toxic masculinity” in public consciousness. (Canadian Press file photo)

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

What a difference a year can make.

Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Day in 2017 was “youthquake” – defined as a “significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people” – the term rising in popularity after the surge in young voter turnout for the UK’s general election in 2017.

For 2018?

The Oxford Word of the Year – chosen “to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year” – for 2018 is “toxic.”

“In 2018, toxic added many strings to its poisoned bow becoming an intoxicating descriptor for the year’s most talked about topics,” Oxford Dictionaries said in the Word of the Year announcement this week on its website. “It is the sheer scope of its application, as found by our research, that made toxic the stand-out choice for the Word of the Year title.”

According to the dictionary, there was a 45 per cent rise in the number of times the term was searched for on its website over the last year.

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Words searched alongside the term “toxic” give insight into the context in which the word was being used. The top ten joint search terms appear split into two categories: literal, referencing chemical, substance, gas, waste, algae and air; and metaphorical, referencing masculinity, relationship, culture and environment – which could arguable fall into both categories.

Runner-ups for the Word of the Day title include “gaslighting,” “big dick energy,” “techlash,” “incel” and “orbiting.” Also, “gammon,” which Oxford Dictionaries describes as “typically being used in the UK as a derogatory term for an older middle-class white man whose face becomes flushed due to anger when expressing political (typically right-wing) opinions.”

What a year.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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