The kids are alright: 'Youthquake' is Oxford word of 2017

by Garry Watts December 16, 2017, 5:52
The kids are alright: 'Youthquake' is Oxford word of 2017

"Youthquake" has been deemed word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, reflecting the "political awakening" among millennial voters globally.

"Youthquake" - defined as "a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people" - took the title this year, the publisher announced Friday.

The term was originally coined by 1960s Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, who used it to describe the influence that Britain's youth had on pop culture, but it really caught on this year during the U.K.'s summer elections.

Predictions of a big victory for Theresa May's Conservative Party before the election were based partly on assumptions that most young people wouldn't vote.

Despite higher engagement figures among the baby boomer generation and despite Labour ultimately ending up with fewer seats, many commentators claimed that "It was the young wot won" it for Jeremy Corbyn - and dubbed their collective actions a "youthquake".

Usage of the word increased fivefold between 2016 and 2017, bolstered by youth-driven general elections in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, according to Oxford. The country's new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is the world's youngest female leader at 37.

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Now, the word of the year is supposed to be a term that has attracted a "great deal of interest during the year to date". "Hope that our polarized times are creating a more open-minded electorate that will exercise its voice in the times ahead", she wrote.

While talking on the BBC's Today program, Oxford Dictionaries consultant Susie Dent couldn't actually provide an example of how the term would crop up in everyday speech.

Each year, the winning word is expected to reflect the mood or ethos of the past 12 months.

Other words that made this year's shortlist include: milkshake duck, white fragility, unicorn, kompromat, brokflake, newsjacking, gorpcore and antifa.

2016's word of the year was "post-truth", reflecting the crisis of facts and trust in the wake of the U.S. presidential election.

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