‘Vape’ chosen as Oxford Dictionaries ‘Word of the Year’
‘Vape’ chosen as Oxford Dictionaries’ ‘Word of the Year’ for 2014
Every year, Oxford Dictionaries chooses a ‘word of the year’ – a word or an expression that has been attributed with attracting a great deal of interest during the year to-date. The candidates for this award are chosen through a rather elaborate process in which 150 million words are considered, and then filtered through until finalists are chosen. To become the ‘winning word’, a word must be selected by the selection team, which is made up of consultants to the dictionary team, lexicographers, and personnel from the departments of marketing, editorial, and publicity.
According to an article published by The Guardian, this year’s word was ‘Vape’, which is a rather interesting choice. According to Oxford Dictionaries chief, Casper Grathwohl, the word ‘vape’ “sat at the centre of several rich conversations: the debate over private versus community rights; regulation and public health; and our relationship to our visible vices.”
According to Oxforddictionaries.com, to vape means to “inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.” While many of us might realize how common the word has become, I will admit that I was a bit surprised that it was actually chosen as the word of the year.
The word ‘vape’ has actually been around for quite some time. In fact, the term ‘vaping’ was in use as early as 1983. But never has it been as predominant in our conversations as it has become today. It’s become a subject tied so closely to ‘tobacco cigarettes’ and ‘smoking’ that the terms are rarely used without at least some mention of electronic cigarettes. It’s also become a term with close ties to ‘smoking cessation’, despite the fact that vaping is not, in and of itself, legally considered to be anything but recreational.
Other Words and How ‘Vape’ Matches Up
Oxford actually chooses one word of the year for the UK and one for the United States – though there are definitely times when these two are the same word. In 2004, for example, ‘chav’ was voted the word of the year for both the UK and the US. ‘Squeezed middle’ was treated similarly in 2011, as was ‘selfie’ in 2013.
Most years have seen the UK and the US choose different words, however. In 2007, for example, the UK word of the year was ‘carbon footprint’, while the US settled on ‘locavore’. This year, however, it seems that ‘vape’ takes the entire spotlight – and for good reason. Vaping has truly become an international phenomenon.
It has taken the market by storm and is on track to surpass tobacco cigarettes. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow year after year – but that’s not all that there is to it.
Vaping is more than just a ‘vice’
Vaping is also a cultural movement. It’s almost a lifestyle label. It speaks volumes about the human condition – about our need for habits that reduce stress and bring us joy, but also for our ability to choose safer, healthier alternatives when given the opportunity. It also speaks of technological innovation, and of mankind’s ability to overcome obstacles previously thought unsurmountable.
Who would have thought that tobacco cigarettes would ever be challenged by an electronic device? Who would have ever believed that humans would even be interested in such a thing?
As it turns out, many people have believed it – and because of their belief and perseverance, we now have an alternative to tobacco cigarette usage that’s making cultural, health, and technological waves across our world. Vaping is challenging the way we think about cigarettes, health, and safety, and is forcing us (as technology often does) to make some critical decisions about who we are and what we should be doing that are, in all forms and facets, healthy things to talk about.
See what Rob Stepney says…
They are part of our progress, and represent our ability as humans to adapt, to change, and to improve – perhaps a very small part, but a part nonetheless.
Do you think word ‘vape’ deserves the word of the year award?