In a linguistic embrace of Internet culture, Oxford University Press has declared “rizz” the Word of the Year for 2023.
The term, which is taken from the word “charisma” and speaks to style, charm, or the magnetic draw one might have in romantic contexts, has seen a meteoric rise thanks to its widespread adoption by Gen Z and beyond, The New York Times reported.
“Rizz” broke into the collective consciousness in large part due to its use by noted YouTube and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat. But the term really took off when actor Tom Holland candidly admitted to having “limited rizz” in a June 2023 Buzzfeed interview, triggering an avalanche of memes and further catapulting the word into the limelight.
American publisher Merriam-Webster also included “rizz” on its list of the year’s top words, but the No. 1 spot went to “authentic,” per AP News.
“We see in 2023 a kind of crisis of authenticity,” editor at large Peter Sokolowski told the outlet. “What we realize is that when we question authenticity, we value it even more.”
Oxford’s Word of the Year is typically selected by the press’s lexicographers, who gather a shortlist of words and expressions experiencing a statistically significant surge, per the NYT. According to the vast Oxford corpus, which tracks over 22 billion words from numerous sources, “rizz” saw an explosive 15-fold increase in use.
But the Oxford team — charged with capturing the “ethos, mood or preoccupations” of the time through their Word of the Year — used a different process this year, instead navigating a “reality show”-style public vote to whittle down contenders, pitting words in various categories against each other.
Here are the paired words, along with their Oxford definitions, that were vying for the No. 1 title:
Swiftie: An enthusiastic fan of the singer Taylor Swift.
De-influencing: The practice of discouraging people from buying particular products, or encouraging people to reduce their consumption of material goods, esp. via social media.
Rizz: Style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.
Beige flag: A character trait that indicates that a partner or potential partner is boring or lacks originality; (also) a trait or habit, esp. of a partner or potential partner, viewed as extremely characteristic, but not distinctly good or bad.
Prompt: An instruction given to an artificial intelligence program, algorithm, etc., which determines or influences the content it generates.
Heat dome: A persistent high-pressure weather system over a particular geographic area, which traps a mass of hot air below it.
Parasocial: Designating a relationship characterized by the one-sided, unreciprocated sense of intimacy felt by a viewer, fan, or follower for a well-known or prominent figure (typically a media celebrity), in which the follower or fan comes to feel (falsely) that they know the celebrity as a friend.
Situationship: A romantic or sexual relationship that is not considered to be formal or established.