‘Youthquake’ Is Oxford Dictionaries’ Word Of The Year And We’re Not So Sure

The entire list is pretty depressing, tbh

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by Jazmin Kopotsha |
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We’ve not had the best year, have we? It’s been pretty turbulent to say the least which is why it’s in no way surprising that the shortlist of words in competition for Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year 2017 was dominated by some really depressing ones.

‘Youthquake’ came out on top this year. Never heard of it? Many of us hadn’t either. Nevertheless, it means ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’.

The word was originally coined about 50 years ago when Diana Vreeland, Vogue US editor-in-chief at the time, declared 1965 as the year of the youthquake in reference to the Swinging Sixties and youth-led fashion and music movement that defined it.

Oxford Dictionaries said youthquake was chosen for 2017 because it’s ‘not only reflective of the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of this past year, but as having lasting potential as a word of cultural significance’, apparently. And while we get it – it’s been a big old year for young people’s engagement in politics - but from the ground we’re not so sure that the events of this year have quite been quake-worthy.

Sure, there was a huge surge in young voters for the Snap Election which is of course incredible and only goes to reinforce how crucial it is for politics to stop alienating young people and start paying us some real attention, but Brexit is still happening (despite the majority of young voters having wanted to remain), tuition fees are still a joke and nope, no major improvement on the prospect of owning a house.

The youths, as we're so fondly referred to, turned TF up this year. The Word of the Year 2017 does reflect the mood at the moment, to be fair, which is really exciting (and overdue). But if we're talking about actual change, I'd call it more of a youthtremor.

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Here are the terms and definitions of other words that made it into the Oxford Dictionaries' shortlist. You won't be blamed for not really recognising many of these either.


Means: 'a political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology'

Shortlisted because: the rise of the alt-right prompted opposition. Obvs Trumps existence has meant it's been a big year for this word.


Means: we know this one far too well. The Oxford Dictionary definition is 'a man who is readily upset or offended by progressive attitudes that conflict with his more conventional or conservative views', which is basically what we spoke about on site here.

**Shortlisted because: **That long list of middle-aged, middle/upper class white men who said and did stupid things this year. See: Piers Morgan.


**Means: **this is a sartorial one, kids. It's 'a style of dress incorporating utilitarian clothing of a type worn for outdoor activities'. Intentionally un-cool and lacking in irony.

**Shortlisted because: **people got bored of normcore and are really into fleeces and bumbags at the moment.


**Means: **'compromising information collected for use in blackmailing, discrediting, or manipulating someone, typically for political purposes'. Stressful in itself, isn't it?

**Shortlisted because: **all of the talk and accusations about Russia having compromising info about Donald Trump before he won the election.

Milkshake Duck

**Means: **okay you might not recognise the term but you've definitely seen this in action at one point or another. It means 'a person or thing that initially inspires delight on social media but is soon revealed to have a distasteful or repugnant past'. So many bells ringing right now.

**Shortlisted because: **it's a tweet that eventually became a meme.

And then things like Zoella's back catalogue of not very nice tweetsand the Keaton Jones saga happened.


**Means: '**the practice of taking advantage of current events or news stories in such a way as to promote or advertise one's product or brand'

**Shortlisted because: **the news has been terrible and brands like to jump on band wagons before thinking it through. Too many examples to note.


**Means: **well, we all know what it is/means, but OD says 'denoting something, especially an item of food or drink, that is dyed in rainbow colours, decorated with glitter, etc.'

**Shortlisted because: **ironically unicorn type things are probably the most common and #basic thing going at the moment. People can't get enough, apparently. We had hoped it was over last year.

White Fragility

**Means: **not all that far from the symptoms of broflakery. It's 'discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice'

**Shortlisted because: **ignorant people still think it's okay to shout/tweet things about 'White Power' and don't quite understand that 'Black Lives Matter' is a thing.

Like this? You might also be interested in…

Broflake: The Perfect Word For Everyone You Hate

Hepeating: When Men Say What You Just Said But Louder

Find Out Which Word Entered The Dictionary The Year You Were Born

Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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