'Goblin Mode' Is Oxford's 2022 Word Of The Year & You Know You're A Little Guilty Of It

There's a little goblin in all of us.

Senior Global Editor
A guy eating chips. Right: A woman hanging out in a messy living room.

A guy eating chips. Right: A woman hanging out in a messy living room.

The Oxford Languages 2022 word of the year is "goblin mode," and chances are you've been living that goblin life for at least some chunk of the last two years.

Oxford shared the news on Monday, but let's be honest: if they were true to the word, they would have lazily dropped this news mid-week at 2 p.m., because who needs standards?

The classy thing to do here would be to give you the dictionary definition of goblin mode, but let's talk about some examples first.

Do you wear sweatpants or pyjamas everywhere you go?

You're going goblin mode.

Do you spend an ungodly amount of money on Uber Eats, just because you can't be bothered to make food or do groceries?

That's goblin mode, especially if you choose no-contact delivery because you don't want to see a human.

Do you ignore your friends' texts so you can binge-watch Love Is Blind on a Saturday, and do you do it with a bag of chips in bed?

You, my friend, are going full goblin mode.

What does "goblin mode" mean?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, goblin mode is slang for a "type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations."

The term first appeared on Twitter in 2009, according to Oxford, but it blew up in February 2022 as COVID lockdowns eased up.


Oxford says goblin mode is the word of the year because while we don't have to stay indoors as much anymore, some people aren't ready to give up their goblin lifestyles. Others simply stopped caring in 2020 and aren't ready to start again anytime soon.

"Goblin mode really does speak to the times and the zeitgeist, and it is certainly a 2022 expression," U.S. linguist Ben Zimmer said at a recent Oxford talk. "People are looking to social norms in new ways. It gives people the licence to ditch social norms and embrace new ones."

Like being a dirty little goblin.

Oxford Languages says "metaverse" was runner-up for word of the year, perhaps because a lot of people still don't quite know what it is, or because Mark Zuckerberg has been trying so hard to make it happen.

Oxford isn't the only dictionary to choose a word of the year; Merriam-Webster went with "gaslighting" for its 2022 word last month.

"Vax" was the Oxford word of the year in 2021.

Let's hope we earn a more positive word of the year in 2023!

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Josh Elliott
Senior Global Editor
Josh Elliott is a Senior Editor for Narcity’s Global Desk focused on celebrity interviews and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
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