OUP selects ‘rizz’ word of the year 2023

Oxford Word of the year

‘Rizz’ is defined as someone’s ability to attract or seduce another person

News Desk

Karachi: The Oxford University Press (OUP) has named “rizz” as its word of the year, highlighting the popularity of a term used by Generation Z to describe someone’s ability to attract or seduce another person.

According to OUP, it is defined as style, charm, or attractiveness, and the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner. The term is thought to be a shortened form of the word “charisma”.

“It speaks to how younger generations create spaces — online or in person — where they own and define the language they use,” the publisher said. “From activism to dating and wider culture, as Gen Z comes to have more impact on society, differences in perspectives and lifestyle play out in language, too.”

Rizz is believed to come from the middle of the word charisma, and can be used as a verb, as in to “rizz up,” or chat someone up, the publisher said.

The OUP Pakistan in a statement on Thursday said: “The Oxford Word of the Year 2023, ‘rizz’, reflects the evolution and influence of language in contemporary culture, particularly among younger generations. This term, defined as style, charm, or attractiveness has gained significant popularity, especially on social media platforms.

The selection of ‘rizz’ highlights the dynamic nature of language and its role in shaping cultural trends. In a global context, this choice reflects the impact of younger generations, specifically Generation Z, on language evolution. The term originated from gaming and internet culture, showcasing how language emerges from online spaces and gains traction in mainstream discourse, the statement read.

According to a report by BBC’s culture reporter Noor Nanji, the Oxford word of the year, internet slang for romantic appeal or charm, was one of eight words on a shortlist, all chosen to reflect the mood, ethos or preoccupations of 2023.

It topped “Swiftie” (an enthusiastic fan of Taylor Swift), “situationship” (an informal romantic or sexual relationship), and “prompt” (an instruction given to an artificial intelligence programme) in the annual decision by experts at the publisher of the multivolume Oxford English Dictionary, reports.

The four finalists were selected by a public vote and the winner was announced on Monday. The list was narrowed down in a public vote before Oxford lexicographers made the final decision.

What is rizz, and do you have it?

It’s used massively online, with billions of views of the hashtag “rizz” on TikTok.

It’s essentially a newer version of “game”, defined as skill, prowess, and the ability to attract others sexually by using one’s charm.

OUP added that a draft definition is one drafted by lexicographers “for the Word of the Year campaign”, and that the words without draft definitions are already in the OED.

It explained that the rest of the words may eventually be added to dictionaries, “after assessment of their longevity, frequency, and breadth of usage”.

YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat is widely credited as having popularised the term rizz, which he used with his friends.

Usage of the word continued to climb this year, and in June, actor Tom Holland was asked by Buzzfeed about the secret to his rizz.

Holland replied: “I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz,” before explaining he won over his girlfriend Zendaya by playing the “long game”.

Last year’s Oxford word of the year was “goblin mode”, another slang term describing “unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy” behaviour.

Casper Grathwohl, president at Oxford Languages, said that while “goblin mode” had resonated with many people after the pandemic, “it’s interesting to see a contrasting word like rizz come to the forefront”.

He said the word possibly spoke to “a prevailing mood of 2023, where more of us are opening ourselves up after a challenging few years and finding confidence in who we are”.

Mr Grathwohl added that the rise in the use of the word rizz proved that words and phrases that derive from internet culture “are increasingly becoming part of day-to-day vernacular”.

The shortlist of eight words was selected by the language experts at Oxford University Press.

That list was then put to a public vote in late November, reducing the field to four finalists, before the experts made the final selection.

In November, the makers of Collins Dictionary revealed their word of 2023 as “artificial intelligence”.

How a word is selected

The Oxford University Press involves the public in the selection process, fostering engagement and debate around language. The shortlist of words is carefully curated to capture the mood, ethos, or preoccupations of the year. The Oxford Monitor Corpus of English, which tracks language usage, helps identify neologisms and candidates for the Word of the Year.

Meanwhile, the cultural and linguistic landscape in Pakistan is diverse and influenced by various factors, including global trends. The concept of language evolution and the emergence of new terms resonates with the Pakistani linguistic dynamics, where a blend of traditional and contemporary expressions coexists.

In Pakistan, social media plays a crucial role in shaping linguistic trends. Adopting and adapting terms like ‘rizz’ may find resonance among the youth, influencing online conversations and reflecting changing cultural dynamics.

As a significant player in the educational publishing sector, OUP can leverage insights from language trends to enhance language learning materials. Understanding evolving linguistic patterns is crucial for providing relevant educational content that resonates with contemporary usage.

However, media outlets and influencers in Pakistan can contribute to the discourse around language trends. Engaging with influential figures and platforms can amplify the discussion on the Word of the Year, encouraging linguistic awareness and exploration.

Pakistan is home to multiple languages and dialects. While the Oxford Word of the Year may primarily be in English, the broader linguistic diversity in Pakistan can be acknowledged and celebrated. The coexistence of languages and the influence of English in various domains, including education, business, and media, contribute to the linguistic landscape.

OUP Pakistan can collaborate with educational institutions to integrate insights from language trends into language learning curricula. This collaboration can enhance language education by incorporating contemporary expressions and fostering linguistic competence among students.

The Oxford Word of the Year 2023, ‘rizz’, provides an opportunity for reflection on the dynamic nature of language, its impact on culture, and its relevance in diverse linguistic contexts, including Pakistan.

OUP Pakistan can be pivotal in leveraging these insights for educational and cultural enrichment.

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