Oxford wordsmiths announce word of 2023 – and it's a charmer!

Oxford, UK - "Rizz" – a colloquial term defined as "style, charm, or attractiveness" – has been crowned word of the year for 2023, Oxford University Press (OUP) announced on Monday.

Oxford University Press has dubbed "rizz" its word of the year in 2023 (stock image).
Oxford University Press has dubbed "rizz" its word of the year in 2023 (stock image).  © 123RF/jastock

Its lexicographers chose "rizz," which also conveys "the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner," from a shortlist of four words and phrases, after help from the public.

An online vote had whittled down the list from eight finalists, all selected "to reflect the mood, ethos, or preoccupations" of the year.

"Rizz was chosen by the language experts at OUP as an interesting example of how language can be formed, shaped, and shared within communities, before being picked up more widely," OUP said.

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"Etymologically, the term is believed to be a shortened form of the word 'charisma,' taken from the middle part of the word, which is an unusual word formation pattern," it noted.

The publisher added that the word shows the growing society-wide impact of Gen Z and how "younger generations create spaces – online or in person – where they own and define the language they use."

The term earned mainstream recognition in June after an interviewer asked Spider-Man actor Tom Holland about his "rizz."

The 27-year-old replied he had "no rizz whatsoever."

"Rizz" vs. "beige flag"

Over 30,000 people participated in helping to select Oxford's 2023 word of the year (stock image).
Over 30,000 people participated in helping to select Oxford's 2023 word of the year (stock image).  © 123RF/andriano

It is the second consecutive year that the public has played a part in picking Oxford's word of the year, after an inaugural public vote last year saw "goblin mode" prevail.

In that instance, the public was given the chance to choose the overall winner.

An overwhelming 93% opted for the slang term describing "unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy" behavior.

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Previous words of the year – chosen by Oxford lexicographers – include "vax" (2021), "climate emergency" (2019), and "selfie" (2013).

In the 2023 selection process, more than 30,000 word lovers helped decide head-to-head competitions between four different pairs of words or phrases.

They selected "rizz" over "beige flag" – a character trait indicating that a partner or potential partner is boring.

The other finalists were "Swiftie" (an enthusiastic Taylor Swift fan), "prompt" (an AI program or algorithm instruction), and "situationship" (a romantic or sexual relationship not considered formal or established).

OUP said "rizz" has "boomed on social media" and shows how the internet can propel initially fringe language "into the mainstream."

"This is a story as old as language itself, but stories of linguistic evolution and expansion that used to take years can now take weeks or months."

Cover photo: 123RF/andriano

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