What Does Oxford Dictionary's Word Of The Year, Goblin Mode, Mean?

Oxford University Press may be a well-respected and long-running publisher and source on all things language, but that doesn't mean they're afraid to have a little fun. Each year, the organization selects a term that captures the cultural climate of the last 12 months. As we become a culture increasingly influenced by the internet and social media, it's no surprise that these words of the year coincide with the popular slang of the time.


Since 2004, the organization has consulted with its editorial staff to decide on a word that reflects the ethos of the year, naming picks like 2013's "selfie" and 2018's "toxic" (via Oxford Languages). This year, they took the internet's involvement a step further.

Instead of narrowing down the top three picks themselves, they left it up to a poll. Over the course of two weeks, over 300,000 people cast their votes on social media. #IStandWith and metaverse gained quite a bit of traction, but in the end, goblin mode prevailed as the 2022 word of the year.

What does goblin mode mean?

Don't worry, you don't have to invest in any green face paint to keep up with the trends this year. Oxford Languages defines goblin mode as "a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations."


It's a response to that put-together, that girl, perfect-all-the-time mentality. Instead of pretending your life is Instagram worthy 24/7, people are embracing the moments when you stand by the refrigerator and eat shredded cheese out of the bag, too.

The term first took the internet by storm back in February as a result of a photoshopped headline, but has since developed a life of its own, representing an overall shift of how many people portray themselves online. With the sudden popularity of apps like BeReal and the charge to make Instagram casual again, it's clear that many creators are choosing to drop the facade and be more honest with their audience.

The other contenders

The other two terms, metaverse and #IStandWith, both have ties to popular topics of discussion on social media as well. #IStandWith has been used in a wide variety of contexts, but after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the hashtag saw a spike in popularity on social media as users vocalized their support for the nation (via Oxford Languages). Despite its frequent use and 2022's widespread call to speak out about injustices, the term took third place in Oxford Dictionary's poll for the word of the year.


Metaverse was the runner-up. After the company that controls Facebook and Instagram officially changed its name, there was a spike in the use of the term, but it also began to come up in the context of the immersive, virtual reality world that Mark Zuckerberg is endeavoring to create as the next step to social media.

One major theme is clear in these top three picks for word of the year — social media ruled 2022.