“Youthquake” declared “word of the year” by Oxford Dictionaries and it’s making people go “what!?”

News reaches Poke HQ that “Youthquake” has been declared “word of the year” by Oxford Dictionaries and a collective “but no one says that” was shouted across the office.

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017 is… youthquake.

The noun, youthquake, is defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’.


Seriously no one says that. A quick Google finds about three mentions in Google News before the press release went out – two on the Guardian and one of the Daily Mail.

And the actual article on Oxford Dictionaries sites two tweets, with the collective retweets of 23!

We’re not alone here’s seven tweets sharing our bafflement:


Youthquake sounds like the name of a Christian folk band that'd come and play at your secondary school in an event profoundly embarrassing for all concerned

— Leo (@modeldrone) December 15, 2017


Severe delays on the Central line due to a youthquake.

Severe delays on all other lines due to no one knowing what a youthquake is.

— TLF Travel Alerts (@TlfTravelAlerts) December 15, 2017


how can youthquake be word of the year when the year isn't over yet? there's still time to spodgobulate this thing.

— GlennyRodge (@GlennyRodge) December 15, 2017


The word “youthquake” has been chosen as the word of the year. But don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it, the person from Oxford dictionaries who chose it couldn’t provide a single example of using it in a sentence….#R4Today

— Jamie Wood (@JamieWoodMedia) December 15, 2017


My first boyfriend did a youthquake on my leg once.

— SG (@sharonGOONer) December 15, 2017


Youthquake sounds like a brand name for The Apprentice contestants would come up with for a task. And lose.

— G.L.O.R.I.A in Excelsis #FBPE (@AuralGloria) December 15, 2017


What a pile of toss. The last time I heard anyone say Youthquake was when Dead Or Alive released an LP in 1985

— Rob Manuel (@robmanuel) December 15, 2017

Oxford Dictionaries is capable of good research as some of the words “youthquake” has lost to have been seen in regular usage. Milkshake duck has been everywhere this year.

Other words in contention:

  • Antifa – a short word for “anti-fascist”
  • Broflake – a man who is readily upset by progressive attitudes, from the derogatory use of “snowflake”
  • Kompromat – the Russian term for material used in blackmail
  • Unicorn – adding rainbow colours to things – especially food
  • Milkshake duck – a person or character on social media that appears to be endearing at first, but is found to have an unappealing back story


Seriously, what are OED playing at?

Our best guess is they think it would be nice if we were using it. But is it the job of a dictionary to try and direct language instead of describe it?

No. We’re staunch descriptivists rather than prescriptivists at Poke HQ.

Get back in your box Oxford Dictionaries. The Poke has spoken.

Source: en.oxforddictionaries

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