Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Oxford, United Kingdom (4E) – The British English-speaking world has selected the noun “youthquake” as its word of the year for 2017 while their cousins (the Americans) on the other side of The Pond chose “feminism” as its word of the year.
Oxford Dictionaries, which is published in Oxford, England, picked “youthquake” on account of the unexpected level of youth activism in this summer’s election in the United Kingdom.
A portmanteau of “youth” and “earthquake,” the noun is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “A significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.”
Oxford Dictionaries said the first recorded use of youthquake is from the January 1965 edition of the magazine Vogue. This word described the upsurge of youth culture in London that occurred in the 1960s, especially as reflected in the changing fashion of the period.
The word was apparently coined by Diana Vreeland, former editor-in-chief of Vogue.
In the United States, dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster named “feminism” its word of the year on account of the Women’s Marches in January and the recent and relentless wave of sexual misconduct allegations against celebrities.
Merriam-Webster defined feminism as either “1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, or 2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”
It said there was a 70% increase in searches on the Merriam-Webster website for this word.
“No one word can ever encapsulate all the news, events or stories of a given year,” according to Merriam-Webster.
“But when we look back at the past twelve months and combine an analysis of words that have been looked up much more frequently than during the previous year along with instances of intense spikes of interest because of news events, we see that one word stands out in both categories.”
The dictionary also cited the entertainment industry as a possible reason for the spike in searches for the word.
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