Words of the Year 2022

Wikipedia photo

What single word encompasses the suspense, dismay, and surprises of 2022?

Merriam-Webster makes its choice based in part on what people look up the most. This year it’s gaslighting: “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.” The runners-up are oligarch, omicron, codify, LGBTQIA, sentient, loamy, raid, and queen consort. There’s a story behind each word, especially loamy.

For Collins dictionaries in Great Britain, it’s permacrisis: “one of several words Collins highlights that relate to ongoing crises the UK and the world have faced and continue to face, including political instability, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and the cost-of-living crisis.” Colins also considered Kyiv, Partygate, splooting, warm bank, Carolean, lawfare, quiet quitting, sportswashing, and vibe state. Not all the words, though, refer to crises.

Also in Great Britain, goblin mode is the Oxford University Press 2022 word of the year, chosen by a popular vote. It means “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” Apparently, that’s a popular response in the UK to its permacrisis. In the running were metaverse and #IstandWith (as in #IstandWithUkraine).

Because I speak Spanish, I’m interested in the palabra del año declared by FundéuRAE, an arm of the Spanish Royal Academy. This year it’s inteligencia artificial (artificial intelligence) because of the ethical implications in the development of machine intelligence. “Questions about when and how this technology might be able to replace certain kinds of professional work has been one of the great debates of the year 2022.”

The other choices were apocalipsis (apocalypse), criptomoneda (cryptocurrency), diversidad (diversity), ecocidio (ecocide), gasoducto (gas pipeline), gigafactoría (gigafactory), gripalizar (to treat like the flu, referring to covid-19), inflación (inflation), sexdopaje (chemsex), topar (to create an upper price limit, such as for gasoline), and Ucraniano (Ukranian). It’s been a tough year in Spain, too.

But there’s more year-end excitement! Time’s Person of the Year is Volodymyr Zelensky. I think he earned it simply by surviving.

Publishers Weekly has its People of the Year: The Defenders. These are “the librarians, booksellers, authors, publishers, and allies standing tall in the face of an unprecedented attack on the freedom to read.” As a writer, I second that nomination.

Finally, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2023 will be Viva Magenta, which I would call very dark pink, but they call “brave and fearless, and a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative.” Indeed, Viva Magenta “galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength.” That’s extraordinary power.

3 thoughts on “Words of the Year 2022

  1. Sue,

    You are literally and literarily the ONLY blogger I follow:

    Always though-provoking. When we are asked in creative writing class to briefly state our principesl are WRITERS, “, I always answer, As a READER, I want to be meet people I have not met, hear points of view I have not heard, and learn about experiences I have not experienced.

    So, where are “First Dude” and “estupidez artificial?” I am always disappointed by such lists! 😉 Yo no hablo emogiano. And a word invented by my poet and friend Alex Pérez-Cortés, “espertancia?”” (Hope in the distance)


    • Espertancia — I love it!

      We have shared aspirations as writers and readers. I especially love books I could not have written because the people, points of view, and experiences are new to me.

      As for estupidez artificial, the internet keeps trying to sell me a book called “Semiosis.” I already own a copy.


      • Thoreau never made a penny of his writings while he was alive; he paid to have them published. For the first printing of Walden, there were 1,000 copies. After a year, the publisher sent most of them back to him. because they did not sell. Thoreau wrote in his journal, I have one thousand books in my personal library, most of which I wrote. Also, I looked for “autoras inglesas” on Spanish Wikipedia. It asked, Did you mean “autobus inglesa?”

        Liked by 1 person

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