Metaverse comes in second place for Oxford's word of the year

The term describing an internet-enabled virtual world lost to ‘Goblin mode’ in 2022 — “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy.”

The Oxford University Press team chose ‘metaverse’ to come in as a runner-up to ‘Goblin mode’ for the word of the year in 2022.

In a Dec. 4 announcement, Oxford Languages said the viral term ‘Goblin mode’ had beat out ‘metaverse’ and millions of other words to become the team’s 2022 word of the year. According to Oxford’s research, usage of the term metaverse “increased almost fourfold from the previous year in the Oxford Corpus,” driven in part by Facebook’s rebranding to Meta in October 2021.

Metaverse lost first place to ‘Goblin mode,’ a phrase that went viral in February, which “captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’” following COVID lockdowns being lifted in many areas. #IStandWith took third place in the contest, driven by hashtags on social media including #IStandWithUkraine following Russia’s invasion of the country in February.

“As we grapple with relatively new concepts like hybrid working in the virtual reality space, metaverse is particularly pertinent to debates about the ethics and feasibility of an entirely online future,” said Oxford Languages. “A worthy opponent to ‘goblin mode’, ‘metaverse’ gained voting traction with crypto communities and publications. We see the term continue to grow in use as more voices join the debate about the sustainability and viability of its future.”

In the video pitch for ‘metaverse’ released in November, Oxford said the term dated back to “the science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson,” released in 1992. More than 300,000 people cast votes resulting in the selection of ‘Goblin mode’ for first palace and metaverse for second.

Related: The metaverse is happening without Meta’s permission

‘NFT’, or nonfungible token, won Collins Dictionary’s contest for the word of 2021, while ‘vax’ took first place at Oxford the same year. The results seemingly represent a change in social media fervor around the crypto-related terms, which was reportedly falling in the first quarter of 2022.

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