Goblin mode’ is Oxford’s Word of the Year

The whole word is going goblin mode, it seems. The good folks over at Oxford, the published behind the Oxford English Dictionary, announced that “goblin mode” was 2022’s Word of the Year.

In what is surely not a coincidence, this is also the first year Oxford opened the competition to a public vote. Basically we’ve got Boaty McBoatface redux. It was a landslide victory — BBC reported “goblin mode” got 93 percent of the more than 300,000 votes. “Metaverse” finished second. Sorry, Zuck.

Oxford says its Word of the Year is intended to reflect the “ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past twelve months” and that it typically “has potential as a term of lasting cultural significance.” While I respect that “goblin mode” won, I am going out on a limb here by saying it might not have the lasting significance of past winners such as “vax” (2021) or “selfie” (2013).

In case you’re not a Super Online person, “goblin mode” started as a meme. It means getting kind of gross, but in a chaotic, self-centered way. Oxford defined it as “a type of behaviour [sic] which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” Side note: I love seeing the fancy “iour” to describe “goblin mode.”

If you need examples, I’ve got you. I’ll go goblin mode and eat cold leftovers out of the fridge with my hands. It is certainly goblin mode when I chug a cold brew then take a nap. Spending all the day in the dark in sweatpants? Goblin mode.

The phrase took off in February, seemingly as a reaction to a return to “normalcy” after COVID-19 restrictions lifted.

Oxford wrote: “It captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’, or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media.

It’s been a big couple years for all things goblin. The goblincore aesthetic — think: eerie, occult, nature-focused imagery — took off during the worst of the pandemic as folks hunkered down in their homes. This year, some Spotify users were surprised to see their Wrapped describe their moods as goblincore.