‘Goblin mode’ chosen by the public as Oxford word of the year for 2022 - but what does it mean?

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Self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, greedy… if this describes you, you’ve been in “goblin mode” in 2022

“Goblin mode” has been dubbed the first Oxford word of the year to be chosen by a public vote. The winning word is a slang term describing “self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy" behaviour.

The phrase, which was one of three choices selected by Oxford lexicographers, won by a landslide 318,956 votes, making up 93% of total votes. “Goblin mode” first appeared in 2009 but went viral earlier this year over a fictitious headline scandal involving actress and model Julia Fox.

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The term saw particular growth as Covid restrictions were lifted and people realised they did not want to come out of “goblin mode” and go back to their normal way of life. A campaign for its selection was launched earlier this year, with PC Gamer magazine asking readers to vote for the phrase as “goblin mode rules”.

This is the first time the word of the year has been chosen by the public. The runner up was metaverse with 14,484 votes, followed by #IStandWith with 8,639 votes.

Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, said: "We were hoping the public would enjoy being brought into the process, but this level of engagement with the campaign caught us totally by surprise. The strength of the response highlights how important our vocabulary is to understanding who we are and processing what’s happening to the world around us.

"Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point. It’s a relief to acknowledge that we’re not always the idealised, curated selves that we’re encouraged to present on our Instagram and TikTok feeds."

Last year’s Oxford word of the year was”vax”, echoing the interest in coronavirus vaccines. Previous words to be chosen include Climate Emergency (2019), Toxic (2018) and Youthquake (2017).

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