10 New Words Added to the Oxford English Dictionary for 2023
From "agrivoltaics" to "textspeak," these words are helping us articulate the strange beauty of modern life.
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Each year, the lexicographers at the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) update the prestigious tome with new words. In 2022, over 650 new words were added, ranging from slang and tech terms to pop psychology language. Not all added words are strictly trendy, however; some are archaic words uncovered by linguistics experts, and others are new entries for existing words.
Because the OED is based in England, many of the terms offer insight into language usage in the U.K., while others seem to have originated in America and traveled across the pond. Here are 10 of our favorites for American audiences, which, taken together, provide a silly and sometimes poignant portrait of the year ahead.
Definition: “The simultaneous use of an area of land for farming and for electrical generation using photovoltaic solar panels”
Fun fact: This new technology helps fight climate change by moving toward renewable energy sources. It emerged in 2021, but has not yet reached most subtropical and semiarid regions.
Definition: “A diet intended to result in very rapid weight loss through severe restrictions on calories intake over a relatively short period of time”
Fun fact: The term surged in popularity after it was revealed that Kim Kardashian lost 16 pounds in three weeks to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Mr. President” dress for the 2022 Met Gala. (Under absolutely no circumstances should anyone try this at home!)
Definition: “A casual gesture of greeting, acknowledgment or affirmation, typically involving slapping palms, bumping fists or snapping fingers”
Fun fact: The term and gesture originated in Black American communities as a sign of solidarity and resistance. The word “dap” emerged in the late 1960s among Black G.I.s serving abroad in the Vietnam War. Incidences of white U.S. soldiers shooting their Black colleagues prompted the Black soldiers to solidify a pact to protect one another, as the military prohibited the use of the Black Power salute. “Dap” was then an acronym for “dignity and pride,” a shorthand for the full pact of equality and togetherness.
The gesture lives on across the world today. In 2012, President Barack Obama famously used the gesture when meeting NBA great Kevin Durant, inspiring a viral Key & Peele comedy sketch about code-switching.
Definition: “A stock female character who survives to defeat or evade after the other characters have been killed, and who is typically portrayed as intelligent, serious, cautious and chaste”
Fun Fact: The “Final Girl” trope has appeared in slasher and horror movies as early as the 1970s. Salle Hardesty from Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is one of the quintessential examples, as well as Laurie Strode from the Halloween franchise (1978-2022).
Definition: “A one-word name (typically a given name or nickname) by which someone, esp[ecially] a celebrity, is known.”
Fun Fact: The New York Times seems to have coined the term in 1962, in reference to Capucine, a French model and actress with notable roles in the Pink Panther (1963) and What’s New Pussycat? (1965).
Other famous mononym celebrities include Plato, Elvis and Pelé, as well as modern stars like Beyoncé and Zendaya.
Definition: “Designating a relationship characterized by the one-sided, unreciprocated sense of intimacy felt by a viewer, fan, or follower for a well-known or prominent figure (typically a media celebrity), in which the follower or fan comes to feel (falsely) that they know the celebrity as a friend”
Fun fact: Search volume for the term spiked massively in September 2021, after news broke that comedian John Mulaney was expecting a baby with actress Olivia Munn. His fans felt betrayed, as Mulaney had built his fame, in large part, on being a “wife guy” (then-married to artist Anna Marie-Tendler) who didn’t want children. In an attempt to explain fans’ intimate devastation, writers published dozens of articles on the dangers of parasocial relationships.
Definition: “A person who steals parcels that have been delivered and left unattended outside the intended recipient’s home”
Fun Fact: Media news sources have been having fun with this alliteration since 2007. Reporters for KFOR (Oklahoma), the South Florida Times, and KMPH (Central Valley, CA) have all used the term.
Definition: “An exceptionally large or powerful yacht; esp[ecially] one that is extravagantly luxurious and used for cruising”
Fun fact: In an age of extreme wealth inequality, superyachts are obviously reserved for the exceptionally rich. The most expensive superyacht is named the History Supreme and is rumored to be owned by Malaysian businessman Rober Kuok. It reportedly cost $4.8 million and comes coated in gold.
Definition: “Language regarded as characteristic of text messaging and other forms of electronic communication, often consisting of abbreviations, acronyms, emoticons or emojis, etc.”
Fun fact: Textspeak has so thoroughly permeated our daily vocabulary that in 2015, the OED named the laughing-face emoji the “word of the year.” According to data from Oxford University Press, that emoji was the most used pictograph in 2015, compromising nearly 20% of emoji use in the United States and the U.K.
If you’re still craving more word fun, be sure to check out our Word Power Vocabulary quizzes.