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‘Rizz’ has been named Word of the Year 2023 by the Oxford University Press

On the 4th December, Oxford University announced that their 2023 selection for ‘Word of the Year’ was ‘rizz’. The word appears as the shortened form of the word ‘charisma’, and undertakes the same shortening pattern as 'influenza' to become 'flu', and 'refrigerator' to become 'fridge'. The word was initially coined (most notably) in 2022 by the online presence of Kai Cenat, who claimed in a Complex interview that he had “popularised the word” and that “rizz meant ‘game’”.


The word has since peppered social media, and has particularly been used amongst the Gen Z community. The original word ‘charisma’ has quickly transformed into its shortened version, defying the historic linguistic commonplace of words evolving over years and instead evolving within a matter of weeks. The term ‘rizz’ further went viral in June 2023 after Tom Holland claimed in a Buzzfeed interview that he had “limited rizz” but was “happy and in love so [he’s] got no need for rizz”. The colloquial noun was defined by Oxford University as ‘style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner’. Rizz can also take verb form; “to rizz” is to successfully attract or seduce with charming and flirtatious conversation. 


Oxford’s Word of the Year is a language selection process which aims to reflect societal circumstances and contemporary individuality. A shortlist is made of words that encapsulate the social climate and represent the atmosphere of the past year. The 2023 shortlist was engineered by a public vote, and included the words: “Swiftie, beige flag, heat-dome, prompt, situationship, parasocial and de-influencing”. Casper Grathwohl, President of Oxford Languages, said that the choice of the word of the year was reflective of the growing presence of social media and internet culture. The university's choice of Word of the Year was influenced by online spaces, especially amongst the younger generation. Oxford claimed that Generation Z jargon would create new perspectives and impact the language undertaken by wider society, with 'rizz' at the forefront of dating and relationship vocabulary.


Grathwohl stated: “The spike in usage data for rizz goes to prove that words and phrases that evolve from internet culture are increasingly becoming part of day-to-day vernacular and will continue to shape language trends in the future”. He also highlighted the significance of the global pandemic in the university’s choice, saying “Given that last year ‘goblin mode’ resonated with so many of us following the pandemic, it’s interesting to see a contrasting word like rizz come to the forefront, perhaps speaking to a prevailing mood of 2023 where more of us are opening ourselves up after a challenging few years and finding confidence in who we are”.


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Tags: #covid19 #genz #2023 #wordoftheyear #generationz #rizz #caspergrathwohl #oxforduniversity #words #charisma #kaicenat #oxforduniversitypress


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