Rizz is the Oxford Word of the Year 2023 (WOTY)
After over 30,000 language lovers around the world got involved to help refine our shortlist of eight words, we are pleased to announce that the Oxford Word of the Year 2023 is rizz.
This year, we created a shortlist of eight words, all chosen to reflect the mood, ethos, or preoccupations of the past year, and put them to the public to vote for their favourites. Through head-to-head competitions over a four-day voting period, the public narrowed down our shortlist of worthy contenders to four finalists: rizz, Swiftie, prompt, and situationship. These words were then put to our language experts, who considered our corpus data, the vote counts, and the public commentary around the words to choose the definitive word of the year for 2023.
‘rizz’ is a colloquial noun, defined as ‘style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner’.
Etymologically, the term is believed to be a shortened form of the word ‘charisma’, taken from the middle part of the word, which is an unusual word formation pattern. Other examples of this word formation pattern include ‘fridge’ (from ‘refrigerator’) and ‘flu’ (from ‘influenza’). ‘rizz’ can also be used as a verb, in phrases such as ‘to rizz up’, which means ‘to attract, seduce, or chat up (a person)’. Expansions into other parts of speech like this can indicate that a word is becoming more prominent in the language.
Our language experts chose rizz as an interesting example of how language can be formed, shaped, and shared within communities, before being picked up more widely in society. It speaks to how younger generations now have spaces, online or otherwise, to own and define the language they use. 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.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.