Goblin Mode: Oxford’s Word Of The Year  2022. What Does It Mean? Find Out Its Origin And Context

The “slang term” Goblin Mode stands for “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations” and became the first Oxford word of the year to be chosen.
Oxford’s Word Of The Year  2022
Oxford’s Word Of The Year 2022

The 2022 netizens have chosen the slang term "Goblin Mode" by public vote which means a kind of behavior that rejects any kind of social norms unapologetically by being self-indulgent, lazy, or slovenly with no expectations of performing societal status quo from themselves.

The word paints the 2022 social scenario perfectly when people around the world found themselves tangled with uncertainty from the lockdowns made compulsory due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The term “goblin mode”, first appeared on Twitter in 2009 and saw its wide usage in 2022 when by public vote the “slang term” that stands for “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”  became the first Oxford word of the year to be chosen.

In the period of two weeks, more than 3000,000 English speakers voted for a choice among three words, screened by editors at Oxford University Press, Goblin mode, “Metaverse” and “#IStandWith”.

 By 318,956 votes Goblin mode won. The term “Metaverse” came second with 14,484 votes and “#IStandWith”, third, with 8,639 votes.


ALSO READ: Gaslighting: Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, All you need to know

Goblin Mode: Origin and context

The Oxford word does the perfect job of displaying this year's zeitgeist.   

The fake headline that appeared in 2009 on Twitter claimed that model actor Julia Fox and her then-partner Kanye West broke up because he “didn’t like when [she] went goblin mode” and blew up in 2022.

Tictokers use the word with a  hashtag "#goblin mode" to convey the sentimental contrast that the present generation feels towards the idealized manifestations of being one’s best version or the "it girl/boy" trope diversified.

 The Reddit threads featured this word as a description of a person acting like a goblin.

Casper Grathwohl, the president, of Oxford Languages, said, “…Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘Goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point.

 It’s a relief to acknowledge that we’re not always the idealized, curated selves that we’re encouraged to present on our Instagram and TikTok feeds.

This has been demonstrated by the dramatic rise of platforms like BeReal where users share images of their unedited selves, often capturing self-indulgent moments in goblin mode. People are embracing their inner goblin, and voters choosing ‘goblin mode’ as the Word of the Year tells us the concept is likely here to stay.”

 After the Covid crisis when the lockdown restrictions seemed relaxed we saw a majority of people suffering from the symptoms of “goblin mode”. The word completely captured the rejected curated aesthetics of perfection on display across social media. 

At the launch event to announce the word of the year, Ben Zimmer, American linguist, and lexicographer said, 

“Goblin Mode really does speak to the times and the zeitgeist, and it is certainly a 2022 expression. People are looking at social norms in new ways. It gives people the license to ditch social norms and embrace new ones.” 

Previous Oxford words of the year include “vax”  from 2021, “climate emergency” from 2019,  and “toxic” from 2018.


Metaverse and #IStandWith: The runner-ups 

The term "Metaverse"  was first introduced in 1992, mentioned in the science fiction novel, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, published in the same year.


The Oxford University Press (OUP) describes meta verse as “a (hypothetical) virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way, sometimes posited as a potential extension of or replacement for the internet, World Wide Web, social media, etc.” 

The hashtag #IStandWith has been seen multiple times and has been a keynote of online activism and expression of one’s solidarity with a cause, movement, or person on social media. 


First used in the 14th century, this year the word's 'prominent usage has been in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to show solidarity with the besieged nation.


ALSO READ: B.R Ambedkar Biography: Birth, Early Life, Education, Political Career, Drafting of India's Constitution, Books, and More


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