For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year isn’t even a word. It’s an emoji. Specifically, the teary-eyed, bald and jaundiced guy on the right there.
Interesting for a dictionary publisher to make a move that risks removing all meaning from the word-of-the-year exercise. Officially, the first pictograph to be bestowed with the honor is actually named “face with tears of joy.”
The emoji was chosen because it was “the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015,” according to a blog post Monday from Oxford University Press.
Oxford says use of both the word “emoji” and the expressive characters themselves saw a big uptick in 2015. The press partnered with third-party Android and iOS keyboard Swiftkey to look into data on global emoji usage and found that the tears-of-joy face was the most used pictograph around the world this year, making up 20 percent of all emojis used in the UK and 17 percent in the US.
Other words and phrases on the “word of the year” shortlist for 2015 include: sharing economy, on fleek, refugee, ad blocker, Brexit, they (when used to refer to a person of unspecified gender), Dark Web, and my personal favorite, lumbersexual. Now that the final word on that list didn’t get the grand prize, I guess I can finally shave. (Check out the Oxford Dictionaries announcement for definitions of all the finalists.)
Earlier this month the Collins Dictionaries also released its words of the year for 2015, which did not include any emojis, but did include “dadbod,” a word that fortunately has yet to inspire its own emoji.