Skip to Content

The Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year Sounds Made Up, But It’s Not

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017 is “youthquake.”

Youthquake is a noun defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.”

Oxford editors chose “youthquake” because their data showed a fivefold increase in usage in 2017 since 2016, with particular prevalence in June during the U.K.’s general election.

In April, conservative leader Theresa May called a snap-election that prompted seven weeks of fierce campaigning. Although the youth-appealing Labour Party lost seats in the June election, it drew the greatest surge of young voters to the polls in 25 years.

New Zealand felt the same phenomenon in its general election in September, where youth engagement and turnout also spiked.

Diana Vreeland, editor-in-chief of Vogue, first coined the term in 1965 to describe the post-war turmoil and the baby-boomers’ rejection of traditional values.

The words that made the shortlist were: Antifa, Broflake, Gorpcore, Kompromat, Milkshake Duck, Newsjacking, Unicorn, and White Fragility.

Words selected from the last four years were Post-truth, ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ Emoji, Vape, and Selfie.