The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017 is one you may have never heard of: “youthquake.” If you have no idea what it means, the definition is “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.”
The word isn’t a new one- it was coined in 1965 by Vogue Editor Diana Vreeland- but apparently it has seen a significant increase in usage in 2017. After the British election in early June, which fostered a huge turnout of youths to vote for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Guardian called their increased involvement a “youthquake”. But besides that, no one is sure who’s actually used it…
The Twitter response to the announcement has been hilarious. One of the biggest criticisms is that neither teens nor young adults use the word youthquake:
— Have I Got News For You (@haveigotnews) December 15, 2017
Some have pointed out that it is also the name of a 1985 album by the band Dead or Alive, which also calls into question the current relevancy of the term:
(Are you sure about this? – Ed)
— Sound Of The Crowd (@sotc80s) December 15, 2017
And others have just poked fun at its general stupidity:
#Youthquake is 2017's word of the year, with "Childnado", Teenicane" and "Babynami" narrowly losing out
— Alex Kealy (@alexkealy) December 15, 2017
Casper Grathwohl, president of the Dictionaries Division, defended the choice, saying, “We try to choose a word that reminds us about where we’ve been. Sometimes, our choice is serious, other times playful.”
Other considerations for this year’s choice included milkshake duck, white fragility, unicorn, kompromat, broflake, newsjacking, gorpcore and antifa.
This it isn’t the first time Oxford Dictionaries has picked a confusing word- two years ago they picked not a word, but an emoji- the “laugh-cry” emoji to be exact, which is known officially as the “face with tears of joy emoji.” Other choices in the past few year have been a bit more understandable, such as post-truth (2016), vape (2014), selfie (2013), and GIF (2012) Maybe “youthquake” was used more in the United Kingdom than the United States, but even so, the choice seems to be a fail on the part of Oxford Dictionaries.