Oxford English Dictionary selects 'goblin mode' as 2022 word of the year

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary have announced "goblin mode" as the 2022 word of the year, and for the first time the term was chosen by a popular vote.

"Goblin mode" describes a person who is "unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations," according to Oxford.


The word suggests a state of being in which a person might become goblin-like, or temporarily out of sorts, like "He's been in goblin mode all week."

It's a slang term, often used in the expressions "in goblin mode" or "to go goblin mode."

Goblin mode began appearing in online chats more than a decade ago, but went viral earlier this year after it appeared a mocked-up headline on social media.

On Reddit, people working from home began using the term to express a general unwillingness to go back to the office after pandemic restrictions eased.

"Seemingly, it captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to 'normal life', or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media," Oxford said in a statement.


The word was one of three that lexicographers put to a vote, and about 320,000 people responded, with 93% choosing goblin mode as the year's best word.

The campaign became a sensation on social media, with PC Gamer magazine urging fans to "put aside our petty differences and vote for 'goblin mode' over 'metaverse' as the Oxford Word of the Year," because "goblin mode rules."

Oxford administrators said they were thrilled by the popularity of the contest.

"We were hoping the public would enjoy being brought into the process, but this level of engagement with the campaign caught us totally by surprise," said Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages. "The strength of the response highlights how important our vocabulary is to understanding who we are and processing what's happening to the world around us."

The Oxford English Dictionary, published by Oxford University Press, is considered the official historical source of the English language and includes many slang and archaic terms.

A week ago, Merriam-Webster named "gaslighting" as its 2022 Word of the Year. The term, which is defined as "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one's own advantage," follows 2021's word "vaccine."

Oxford selected "vax" as its 2021 word of the year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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