We associate the word “toxic” with gas masks, hazardous waste and health risks.
And now we can associated it with the year 2018.
The word was selected by Oxford Dictionaries as the 2018 Word of the Year. Every year, the organization selects a word that reflects the “ethos, mood or preoccupation of the past year” and has “lasting potential as a term of cultural significance,” according to the website.
Toxic was selected for its “sheer scope of application.” While the term once referred strictly to a poisonous substance, the past year firmly established its use to refer to harmful attitudes, relationships, environments and cultures. Think toxic workplaces, toxic relationships and toxic masculinity, which is exhibited by those who have harmful stereotypes about masculine gender roles.
The word saw a 45 percent increase in the number of times it was searched at oxforddictionaries.com. It popped up in the news related to chemical warfare, algaes and waste from both natural disasters and unchecked industry. But the word also came up in connection to work environments that have a negative effect on mental health, including subjects related to the “MeToo” movement.
Oxford Dictionaries isn’t the only organization who identifies a word of the year. Dictionary.com selected “misinformation,” Collins Dictionary picked “single use” for the increased attention on how disposable items hurt the environment and Cambridge Dictionary picked “nomophobia,” which refers to the fear of “no mobile phone” — being without or unable to use your phone.
If the 2018 Word of the Year seems a little depressing, the good news is that it’s behind us. Here’s to a less toxic New Year.
2018 Word of the Year runner-ups and their meanings
Big Dick Energy (BDE) – Attitude of understated, casual confidence.
Cakeism – The belief that one can enjoy both of two desirable but mutually exclusive alternatives at once, mostly used in the UK.
Gammon – Derogatory term for an older, middle-class white man whose face becomes flushed from anger while expressing political (typically conservative) opinions, mostly used in the UK.
Gaslighting – Manipulating someone into accepting a non-reality or into doubting their own sanity
Incel – Short for involuntary celibate. Used by an online community of young men who view themselves as unable to attract women sexually. They put the blame on women.
Techlash – The negative reaction to the growing power and influence of large technology companies.
Overtourism – Damage to the environment, historic sites and cultural quality of life brought on by an excessive number of tourist visitors.
Orbiting – Abruptly withdrawing from direct communication with someone while still observing them and interacting with them on social media
Past Oxford Dictionaries Words of the Year for the US
(tears of joy emoji) (2015)
Squeezed middle (2011)
Readers Respond: We asked Inland 360 Facebook fans, “What word would you use to sum up 2018?”
Richard Kremer: Idocracy…
Sharon Opdahl Hartwig: Draining.
Jenny Zorens Hoffman: Wunderbar
Laura Getz: Better 😊
Melissa Y M Barham: Whirlwind
Ford T. LPearson: #ShroomyMcLaughingstock
Carol Ann Kuchmak: Hope!
Redneck Don: MAGA!!
Katie N Glenn Shea: Scary
Deanna Vance: Sad.
Linda Weatherly: Exhausting
Gerry Conway: Ungodly
William Stratton: Over