If you were to summaries 2023 in a couple of words, what would they be? Would you choose: Huge, overwhelming, or a lot? Beautiful and splendid? Uber Eats, chicken nuggets, food coma?
This question is pertinent, as this is a question each major dictionary asks every year. Before December fades into January, each dictionary selects a word of the year, a word that reflects how our zeitgeist and language has changed over the last 12 months. If these dictionaries do their jobs right, their words will have you fist-pumping the sky in agreement.
So, with all that context in our noggins, how did our dictionaries do in 2023? Were their words of the year poggers? Did they encapsulate the essence of the last 12 months? Or did each dictionary fail at the start line?
Hang onto your lexicons, ‘cause it’s time to review each dictionary 2023 word of the year.
Cozzie Livs — Macquarie Dictionary
Cozzie Livs: A slang term for the cost of living crisis.
In 2023, most Aussies have been having a rough-as-guts time. Rent is too high, petrol’s too expensive, and bread costs more than a yacht.
So, to help navigate this financial hellscape, Australia adopted a cute term from the UK. We refer to this “cost of living crisis” as a “cozzie livs”. For it’s much easier to talk about the big issues when they’re couched inside banter and jokes.
So, for such reasons, the Macquarie Dictionary has made “cozzie livs” its 2023 word of the year. They believe that this term is now a cultural touchstone and encapsulates this year like no other.
As the Macquarie Dictionary explained, “Although cozzie livs was coined in the UK, it has resonated soundly with Australians, with its ie suffix and its clipped formation, reminiscent of ‘menty b’ and ‘locky d’. And what could be a more Australian approach to a major social and economic problem than to treat it with a bit of humour and informality?”
Yet, while this term is a brilliant one, it might not deserve to be 2023’s word of the year. This is because the cost of living crisis was impacting heaps of Aussies in 2022. What’s more, that same year, the term “cozzie livs” was already in local circulation.
We therefore give Macquarie Dictionary’s “cozzie livs” a solid 8/10. While this choice is a mint one, they left some better choices back on the shelf.
AI — Collins English Dictionary
AI: An abbreviated form of artificial intelligence.
Google Bard and ChatGPT. Over the past 12 months, these two AI programmes have dominated the cultural discourse. Students have used these apps to write their essays, and lovers have used them to write their vows. As it stands, AI is murdering jobs and shaping the very laws that govern its existence.
For these reasons, it makes a whack of sense that the Collins English Dictionary made “AI” its 2023 word of the year. This tech is rapidly reshaping the way that we traverse our everyday lives.
What’s more, the Cambridge Dictionary and Dictionary.com also selected AI-based words of the year. However, in a surprising twist, they both chose the same term. These two dictionaries went with the word “hallucinate”, the act of an AI programme publishing a piece of misinformation.
According to Wendalyn Nichols, Cambridge Dictionary’s Publishing Manager, their word of the year acts as a warning.
“The fact that AIs can hallucinate reminds us that humans still need to bring their critical thinking skills to the use of these tools,” Nichols said. “AIs are fantastic at churning through huge amounts of data to extract specific information and consolidate it. But the more original you ask them to be, the likelier they are to go astray.”
“At their best, large language models can only be as reliable as their training data. Human expertise is arguably more important – and sought after – than ever.”
We therefore give the term “AI” a strong 9/10 and “hallucinate” a stronger 9/10. We didn’t ask ChatGPT for any feedback regarding these two choices.
Authentic — Merriam-Webster
Authentic: Being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.
From Merriam-Webster’s perspective, authenticity is now more important than ever. In fact, they even made “authentic” their 2023 word of the year.
“Authentic is what brands, social media influencers, and celebrities aspire to be,” Merriam-Webster said in a statement. “Elon Musk made headlines when he said that people should be more authentic on social media. Apps and platforms like BeReal make recording authentic experiences their main purpose.”
However, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year suffers the same problem as Macquarie Dictionary’s choice, but to a much greater extent. This is because we have been in the age of authenticity for ages.
Ever since YouTube vlogging kicked off in 2005, audiences have demanded that their entertainment is relatable. For well over a decade, if you’re not perceived to be “living your truth”, it’s much harder to garner an audience. To claim that we’re heading into a new era of authenticity is, put simply, not true.
We therefore give Merriam-Webster’s “authentic” a spicy 5/10. If you play it safe in the word game, then you’re going to receive a safe score.
Matildas — The Australian National Dictionary Centre
Matildas: The name of the Australian women’s national football team.
Before 2023, most Aussies didn’t know or care about women’s football. It was an activity regulated to late-night SBS fanatics and avant-garde Tinder bios. However, that all changed in July of this year.
‘Cause in July, the FIFA Women’s World Cup came to Australia. What’s more, the Matildas played exceptionally well in this cup, getting all the way to the semi-finals. These factors combined to create the perfect storm, a tirade of new Matilda stans.
As stated by Channel 7, the Matildas and England semi-final match was the number one broadcasted event of this year. It reached 11.15 million Aussies and averaged an audience size of 7.13 million individuals. To say that the Matildas became a household name would be the understatement of the century.
Therefore, it makes a tonne of sense that the Australian National Dictionary Centre made “Matilda” its word of 2023. According to the Centre’s Director, Dr Amanda Laugesen, this word has only just become popular again.
“From the 1880s, matilda was one of the names for a swag, a bag of possessions carried by an itinerant man looking for work,” Laugesen said.
“It’s only since the mid-1990s that the women’s soccer team has been called the Matildas, but after this year’s World Cup, the word has once again cemented itself in the Australian lexicon.”
In this instance, Laugesen couldn’t be more correct. We therefore give the word “Matilda” a solid 10/10.
Rizz — Oxford University Press
Rizz: An abbreviation of the term charisma.
Sometimes, humanity invents a better word for a term that already exists. This was most certainly the case when the word “charisma” transformed to “rizz”. In 2023, the term rizz was forged in the fires of Twitch culture and has gone on to become a staple on the internet.
Most folks credit the actor Tom Holland with popularising the term. He used the term in an interview with Buzzfeed while talking about his dating game.
“I have limited rizz,” Holland said. “I need you to fall in love with me, really, for it to work.”
According to Casper Grathwohl, the President of Oxford Languages, the fact that the term rizz has risen in popularity is a sign of good things to come. Grathwohl is hopeful that it means that we are all “opening ourselves up after a challenging few years” and can obtain some “confidence in who we are.”
We therefore give the word “rizz” a mint-fresh 12/10. What an excellent word to roll from the mouth. A new phrase of hope is now here.