Oxford University Press has named “rizz” as its word of the year, highlighting the popularity of a term used by Generation Z to describe someone’s ability to attract or seduce another person.
“Rizz,” a shortened form of the word “charisma,” has been used in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) for decades, but it recently gained popularity among Gen Z users on social media platforms like TikTok and Twitter.
The word was chosen from a shortlist of eight words, all of which were chosen to reflect the mood, ethos, or preoccupations of the past year. Other finalists included “prompt,” the instruction given to an artificial intelligence program that influences the content it creates; “situationship,” an informal romantic or sexual relationship; and “Swiftie,” a term for an enthusiastic fan of Taylor Swift.
Oxford’s experts chose “rizz” as the word of the year because it is a “new and interesting example of how language can be formed, shaped, and shared within communities before being picked up more widely in society.” They also noted that the word’s popularity speaks to “how younger generations now have spaces, online or otherwise, to own and define the language they use.”
The selection of “rizz” as the word of the year is sure to spark some debate, as some people may argue that it is a superficial or trivial word. However, Oxford’s experts defended their decision, arguing that the word is “a reflection of how language is constantly evolving and adapting to the changing world around us.”
Oxford University Press has crowned “rizz” as the word of the year, showcasing its significance within Generation Z to characterize someone’s capacity to attract or enchant others. Initially rooted in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) and known for decades, “rizz” recently surged in popularity among Gen Z users on social media platforms like TikTok and Twitter.
From a curated shortlist of eight contenders, including words like “prompt,” “situationship,” and “Swiftie,” “rizz” emerged as the standout choice. Oxford’s language experts lauded it as a fresh and intriguing illustration of how language evolves within communities before permeating wider society. They also acknowledged the word’s resonance in reflecting how younger generations carve spaces to define the language they use, especially in online domains.
Despite potential criticisms of its perceived superficiality, Oxford defended its selection, citing “rizz” as a symbol of language’s constant adaptation to the evolving world. This decision underscores the dynamic nature of language and its role in shaping culture.
The factors influencing Oxford’s choice were manifold. Notably, “rizz” stood out for its rapid ascent to popularity, its representation of language trends among younger demographics, and its alignment with the prevailing ethos of the past year. Additionally, its gender-neutral nature, playful tone, and association with confidence likely contributed to its selection.
Regardless of differing opinions on Oxford‘s choice, “rizz” serves as a testament to the evolving linguistic landscape, offering insight into how words navigate cultural shifts and influence societal norms.