While Merriam Webster and Dictionary.com chose common cultural words for their 2017 Word of the Year, with “feminism” and “complicit” respectively, Oxford dictionary went a more unusual route this year.
The dictionary has revived a 50-year-old word, “youthquake,” to describe 2017’s political trends. The word means “significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people,” and has racked up a 400 percent “year-on-year increase” according to The Guardian.
While I have never heard the word before, the outlet reports that it originates with former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland who coined it in the 1960s to describe youth culture in London. The Oxford publishers attribute the popularity of the word to the U.K. and New Zealand general elections and the role that youth mobilization played in both of them.
The runner-ups include “antifa,” “broflake,” “Kompromat,” “white fragility,” and “Milkshake Duck.”
“Youthquake may not seem like the most obvious choice for word of the year, and it’s true that it’s yet to land firmly on American soil, but strong evidence in the UK calls it out as a word on the move,” Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, told The Guardian.
In the U.S., at least, I’d make the argument that broflake (a man who is readily upset or offended by progressive attitudes that conflict with his views) might be a more applicable choice — but Oxford Dictionaries wanted to find a more hopeful word to define the year.
— Have I Got News For You (@haveigotnews) December 15, 2017
— Parker (@panoparker) December 15, 2017
“In youthquake we finally found some hope in the power to change things, and had a little bit of linguistic fun along the way,” lexicographer Susie Dent said. “It feels like the right note on which to end a difficult and divisive year.”