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'Toxic' Is Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year

One News Page Staff Saturday, 17 November 2018
'Toxic' Is Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Yearby 👩‍💻 Alice Monroe

Collins’ English Dictionary recently revealed their word of 2018 to be ‘single-use’ – referring to types of plastic which have been brought to the world’s attention in the past twelve months – and it appears that Oxford Dictionaries appears to be following a similar line of thought. This year, they have opted to use the word ‘toxic’ – which not only covers a wide range of environmental uses, but also within social culture, too.

‘Toxic’ has become a word which is used to describe a whole host of negative situations, The Guardian reports. One of the most popular uses of the adjective this year has been seen in the case of ‘toxic masculinity’, which refers to negative male behavior. The traditional use of the word, too, has seeped into public use commonly throughout 2018, with more and more focus having been placed upon the way we are treating our environment – though the rise of the #MeToo movement has helped to propel the word into a whole new line of usage to help identify extremely negative situations.

Casper Grathwohl, president of dictionaries at Oxford University Press, explained the decision. “Reviewing this year in language, we repeatedly encountered the word ‘toxic’ being used to describe an increasing set of conditions that we’re all facing. Qualifying everything from the entrenched patriarchy to the constant blare of political rhetoric, ‘toxic’ seems to reflect a growing sense of how extreme, and at times radioactive, we feel aspects of modern life have become.”

'Toxic' Chosen As Oxford Dictionary Word Of The Year
'Toxic' Chosen As Oxford Dictionary Word Of The Year [video]

The choice made by Oxford Dictionaries is reflective of a year in changing language use and propagation, and ‘toxic’ was of course only one of many words to have made their final shortlist. Some of them were shared with Collins’ shortlist – such as ‘gaslighting’, which means to influence someone that they are losing control of their own sanity, and ‘gammon’, a derogatory word which has been used to describe angered middle-aged men with strong opinions on right-wing politics.

Their other choices include ‘incel’, which has come define those who see themselves as ‘involuntarily celibate’ and unable to find a sexual partner or love interest, ‘techlash’, a word which describes a feeling of resentment towards growing power wielded by technology firms, and ‘overtourism’, which has been used to describe circumstances where travellers have impacted negatively upon holiday spots during their vacations. It seems that internet culture – and environmental concerns – have formed the crux of choices for the word of the year celebrations.


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