‘Metaverse’ Comes Second in Oxford Word of Year List

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  • ‘Metaverse’ came second in the 2022 Oxford Word of the Year competition
  • Goblin mode beat out the virtual reality term via popular vote
  • Last year, ‘NFT’ was Collins’ word of the year

‘Metaverse’ has come second in the 2022 Oxford Word of the Year list, a year after Collins voted ‘NFT’ as 2021’s word of the year. The news is another example of how crypto-related terms are becoming the norm, despite there being any decent applications of the metaverse actually out there. Nevertheless, the concept has been discussed enough for Oxford Languages to place it second to ‘goblin mode’, which also has crypto connotations.

Goblin Mode Beats Metaverse

Oxford Languages and Collins both hold ‘word of the year’ competitions, with Collins last year giving the award to ‘NFT’. Having declared last month that its 2022 word of the year was ‘permacrisis’, it was up to Oxford Languages to keep crypto terms coming, and it didn’t disappoint – ‘metaverse’ came second to ‘goblin mode’.

Oxford Languages defined ‘metaverse’ as:

…a (hypothetical) virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way, sometimes posited as a potential extension of or replacement for the internet, World Wide Web, social media, etc.’

It references the first mention in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and notes how, until late 2021, there was “relatively little sustained usage of ‘metaverse’ outside of specialist contexts”. However, within just 10 months use of the word had increased almost fourfold, with Oxford Languages noting that “the concept of the ‘metaverse’, how we use it, and what it means for the future, has also been widely discussed”, in reference to Facebook’s parent group changing its name to Meta.

As expected, not everyone was thrilled with ‘metaverse’ placing so high:

With NFT and metaverse both earning such accolades within a year of breaking through into the mainstream, we will have to wait and see what terminology comes out of the bear market that will be in 2023’s list.