Word of year: rizz

RIZZ HAS OFFICIALLY BEEN VOTED as the “word of the year,” by the Oxford University. (anniversity.mnu)

Nicolle Generaux | Editor-in-Chief

December 8, 2023

Oxford’s Word of the Year is rizz. For those who do not know, “rizz” is “a colloquial word, defined as style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner,” according to the prestigious Oxford University Press. 

This supposedly largely impactful word first appeared on Tiktok from a famous influencer, Kai Cenat, who introduced the term rizz on a livestream. He explained his approach to relationships with women by saying that he has “rizz,” or the idea that he can get a woman to become interested in him romantically purely by his demeanor and actions. Although many speculate that “rizz” is short for charisma, Cenat disagreed, making it clear that rizz is, in fact, its own word. 

Rizz beat out these other frontrunners for the top word: Swiftie, de-influencing, beige-flag, and situationship. Last year, the word of the year was goblin-mode, which is apparently the state of being confident in one’s self, and indulging in anything one wants without the fear of being judged by others. 

“I’m not surprised to see that it’s the word of the year since it’s said so often,” commented senior Lyza Yetter, “but I am surprised it’s only one word— I always thought it was short for charisma.” 

Oxford University Press Editors normally choose the word of the year, but starting last year, these editors only choose eight words to be “finalists,” and then hold an official vote for the winner. This “word of the year” selection is supposed to be something that is “culturally significant” to our generation, and reflects the feelings and situation of our society over the entire year. 

Considering that these “culturally significant” words were chosen by adults who graduated from college and are not actually students currently attending Oxford University, I question the motive for choosing popular terms among the younger people in the world. After all, Oxford University Press’ mission is to “create world-class academic and educational resources and make them available as widely as possible” by publishing world-wide. Somehow, I do not find rizz –a slang term that a popular video-gamer happened to mention that should never be used in a professional context– to educate the public on what truly matters and marks our generation’s uniqueness. 

“I see both sides of the argument for rizz being slang versus culturally significant, but I feel that it is essentially just a slang term,” mentioned senior Chris Pimentel. “However, I do understand that in order for Oxford’s word of the year to stay relevant, they have to choose slang words that are popular right now, so it might be considered culturally significant in the future and impact future generations.” 

Rizz, along with the past 20 years’ selected words, are more likely than not going to go down in history as a random slang term that circulated around social media and the young generation for a year or two– much like the slang terms and phrases of the 1980s, including “eat my shorts!” “gnarly,” and “hella.” Are these words actually “culturally significant,” or are these words purely informal dialect that the youth used a little-too-much during that time? Maybe it’s utter stupidity and laughable meaning is what makes it so?

Hard to tell. All current online articles and newspapers seem to be taking this word seriously, explaining its background, and describing how choosing rizz overall reveals the effect Gen-Z has on the world. 

Or maybe it’s just a slang term. 

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