2017 in a word: “youthquake.”
That’s the word that Oxford Dictionaries says best sums up the year. What does it mean, you ask?
Oxford says that it was coined in the 1960s by legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland to describe the countercultural moment in London. Oxford claims that the word’s cultural cachet has skyrocketed in 2017 — that they’ve seen its use increase fivefold in the last year.
The word of the year is supposed to have “attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date.” But you’re not alone if you’ve never heard it before.
Apparently there was an actual youthquake in the U.K. this year, and VICE UK was on it. An article headlined “How 2017’s Youthquake Started” is the only use that we could find of the term in a 2017 headline before today.
Oxford thinks it sums up the millennial generation’s political awakening, from the surge in youth interest in the British Labour Party to the protest culture emerging in the U.S.
Katherine Connor Martin, head of Oxford’s new words program, acknowledged it was an unusual choice. After last year’s word, “post-truth,” they strived to strike a lighter, more hopeful note with this year’s choice.
“It originally referred to changes in fashion caused by baby boomers coming of age. Now we’re seeing it emerge in an electoral politics context, as millennials displace the baby boomers,” Martin told the New York Times.
The runners-up were even weirder.
“Broflake,” which describes conservative men who are easily offended by progressives, was another contender. “Milkshake duck” refers to a tweet turned meme, first mentioned by the popular Weird Twitter account Pixelated Boat.
Also in the running were “unicorn,” the practice of adding colors to food, and “kompromat,” the Russian word for information that could be used as blackmail (e.g., the infamous pee tape).