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Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year is ‘Youthquake’

Young people play drums during a protest organized by the Portuguese union CGTP in Lisbon, Portugal November 18, 2017. Source: Reuters/Rafael Marchante

The insane rollercoaster that was 2017 has catapulted a bunch of new words and terms into everyday vernacular: broflake, fake news, #MeToo.

The lexicography extraordinaires at Oxford Dictionaries have opted for another, lesser-known term for their World of the Year for 2017, however. It is: Youthquake.

Inspired by the snap election in Britain saw an unexpected surge of young voters for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, the term “youthquake” crept into political vocabulary in the UK during 2017.

A noun, youthquake is defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.”

More than one hundred lexicographers at the Oxford University Press-published, world-renowned Oxford Dictionaries thus chose the term.

“Selecting the Word of the Year is not just an art – there’s a lot of science to it as well,” according to Casper Grathwohl, the President of Dictionaries. For example, he said that there had been a threefold increase in the word “Trump” appearing next to the word “tweet” during 2017.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, usage of the term youthquake in the UK increased fivefold in 2017 over 2016, including a huge spike in the second half of the year.

“We chose youthquake based on its evidence and linguistic interest. But most importantly for me, at a time when our language is reflecting a deepening unrest and exhausted nerves, it is a rare political word that sounds a hopeful note.”

Other words that made the shortlist included “antifa”, “paigon”, “mugwump”, “white fragility”, and “dotard”.

“Sometimes you pick a Word of the Year because you recognise that it has arrived, but other times you pick one that is knocking at the door and you want to help usher in,” added Grathwohl.

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