Goblin Mode – The Lexicographic Grandees’ favorite becomes ‘Word of the Year’


It has been a year ago since Oxford Languages’ lexicographic grandees wholeheartedly embraced “vax” as the Word of the Year for 2021. But interestingly, the favorite word of the same lexicographic grandees for this year is nothing other than ‘Goblin mode.’ 

What is goblin mode?

Before we understand the rest, we must first know what this phrase means. “Goblin mode” is slang that refers to a kind of self-indulgent behavioral pattern that manifests greed, laziness, and slovenly unapologetically in a way that typically defies or rejects the norms of society and its expectations. So, here we have Goblin mode as Oxford’s 2022 Word of the Year

In a telephonic interview, Katherine Connor Martin, Oxford Languages’ product director, revealed that new words catch the eye and tend to capture our imagination. Alternatively, this word might also help us fill a hole or express a concept we might want to relate to. 

What does Goblin mode help to convey?

The product director also stated that the phrase resonated with the fact that the pandemic is done with. Nevertheless, people continue to grapple with it. 

On what is the Word of the Year based?

The Word of the Year is based on evidence of usage obtained from the continuously updated corpus of Oxford’s 19 billion-plus words fetched from news sources from English-speaking countries. Oxford says that the selection of the Word of the Year is for reflecting the ethos, preoccupations, or mood of the bygone years while simultaneously using a word that has the potential to last culturally and significantly. 

How do Oxford’s lexicographers zero in on the Word of the Year?

The lexicographers of Oxford assemble a list of words that manifest a surge, then select one. However, this year their approach was more populist, wherein they announced three words which included “metaverse,” “#IStandWith,” and “goblin mode.” After that, it opened an online public vote for two weeks. 

When the phrase “goblin mode” was included, it did attract raised eyebrows since the “Not Very Online started hunting on Google. However, in the end, goblin mode emerged to be the winner. Alternatively, many thought it was the lesser evil of the three words selected above. Goblin mode won as many as 340,000 votes, around 93%, followed by Metaverse as runner constituting just 4%. 

Origin of the word goblin mode

The origin of the phrase is rather murky. While it appeared on the microblogging site in 2009, it gained prominence when the phrase went viral. It was used as a satirical tweet that made a fake news headline with Julia Fox quoting that she and Kanye West parted ways when he did not quite like her goblin-mode behavior. However, Fox later clarified that she never used the words goblin mode on her Instagram Stories. 

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