The public vote for Oxford Word of the Year has been announced. The winning word, “goblin mode”, is a slang term describing “brazenly conceited, lazy, careless or greedy” behaviour.

The new addition was one of three potential options chosen by Oxford lexicographers.

Thousands of people managed to get out of ‘goblin mode’ to vote, with the phrase winning by a huge margin – 318,956 votes, 93% of the total. In second place was Metaverse with 14,484 votes, followed by #IStandWith with 8,639 votes

So what exactly does “goblin mode” mean?

According to Oxford University Press, which publishes the Oxford English Dictionary, it is a slang term often used in phrases such as “I’m in goblin mode” or “to go goblin mode”.

It is further explained as “a type of behavior” that is brazen, presumptuous, lazy, careless, or greedy, usually in a way that rejects social norms or the expectations of those around them.

The term began appearing on the internet in 2009, but went viral early this year due to a fictional headline scandal involving actress and model Julia Fox, as well as a popular Reddit post describing someone behaving like a goblin.

The term gained the most rapid popularity during the pandemic because people fell into goblin mode en masse while confined to their homes all the time, experts considered.

Some sectors continue to experience goblin mode from their employees. According to surveys, IT professionals and a lot of people in the industry continue to work from home, which is the reason for bad and sour mood as well as work not done efficiently. However, the paradox in behavior comes from the fact that most people in the field have no desire to return to their offices, never mind that they already have the opportunity.

Home Office practitioners are more likely to feel tired, run down, in a bad mood, etc. Some also complain of physical problems related to their posture and spine. Goblin mode is the juxtaposition between the problems coming from Home Office and the mood of the people who practice it.

This sparked a campaign to get him elected, with PC Gamer magazine asking its readers to “put aside our petty differences and vote for ‘goblin mode’ instead of ‘metaverse’ as Oxford’s word of the year” because “goblin mode rules”.

It might be hard to argue with that logic when many of us sometimes feel a bit in the way of describing the phrase.

Casper Gratwall, president of Oxford Languages, said people have embraced their inner goblin.

“We had hoped that the public would be happy to participate in the process, but this level of engagement with the campaign has taken us completely by surprise. The strength of the response highlights how important our vocabulary is to understanding who we are and assessing what is happening to the world around us.”,

Add Casper Gratwall

Last year’s word of the year was vax, reflecting the interest in vaccines following the launch of a coronavirus vaccine.


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