Rizz named word of the year by leading lexicographers
It is an elusive quality that has gone by many names over the years. Some have described it as allure, while others characterise it as old fashioned drawing power. But now, a term coined by Generation Z to describe romantic appeal is set to enjoy an upsurge in use after being declared the Oxford word of the year.
Rizz, a slang phrase which denotes someone’s ability to attract a romantic partner through their style, charm, or attractiveness, triumphed over several other popular words, with lexicographers at Oxford University Press describing it as an “interesting example” of how language can be formed, shaped and shared within communities before being used more widely.
It is understood that rizz, a phonetic shortening of charisma, was first used in 2021 by Kai Cenat, a US YouTuber and live streamer. In an interview with Complex, a US youth culture magazine, the 21-year-old said the word was frequently used by his social circle.
Since then, the word has been widely used as a hashtag by users of the video-sharing app, TikTok, and it shot to prominence earlier this year Spider-Man actor, Tom Holland, was asked about his 'rizz' in a widely shared interview. He replied: “I have no rizz whatsoever, I have limited rizz.”
In a statement, the OUP said the word’s popularity was testament to its use by those Generation Z. “It speaks to how younger generations create spaces, online or in person, where they own and define the language they use,” it explained. “From activism to dating and wider culture, as Gen Z comes to have more impact on society, differences in perspectives and lifestyle play out in language, too.”
Rizz topped a shortlist of eight words and phrases that were chosen to most reflect the mood, ethos or preoccupations of the last year. The others included: Swiftie, a noun used to describe an enthusiastic fan of the singer, Taylor Swift; de-influencing, which refers to the practice of discouraging people from buying or using particular products and services, especially social media; and beige flag, a noun which defined a character trait that indicates that a partner or potential partner is boring or lacks originality.
Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, said: “It has been incredible to see the public once again enjoying being a part of the word of the year selection. Witnessing thousands of people debate and discuss language like this really highlights the power it has in helping us to understand who we are, and process what’s happening to the world around us.
“Given that last year ‘goblin mode’ resonated with so many of us after 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.”
In November, the makers of Collins Dictionary revealed their word of 2023 as ‘artificial intelligence’. US publishing company Merriam-Webster chose ‘authentic’ as their word of the year.
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