Oxford Dictionaries has spoken, and the English language has been officially expanded. In its ritual of recognizing and adding a Word of the Year to its dictionaries, this year’s winner is “vape.”
For those of you not familiar with the word, Oxford described it as both a verb and a noun for the whole category of wildly popular tobacco or cannabis atomizing devices. What makes the word choice exciting can be summed up in simple two-part answer.
First off, the word helps in foreseeing a future where the expansive use of vapes are becoming an actual reality, and how can it not?
It seems with every new election, another state adds its own marijuana legalization law or disallows smoking in a new public setting. It seems as if it is only a matter of time before the prohibition of weed is lifted, and Oxford is gearing up for it. Yes, stoners, Oxford has had great success in determining future trends, and if you don’t believe me, just look at the last few years of chosen words.
Last year, “selfie” was honored, and as it made its way onto the Oxford pages, the web became flooded with self-taken pictures of teens (and adults, holding on a little too tightly to their youth), almost overnight. In 2012, “gif” won the honors, and the flip-book animation style also caught on like wildfire, bringing a new dimension to cat memes and Top 10 lists everywhere. Vape being recognized by Oxford Dictionaries is great news for hippies and art students (or, let’s face it, people from just about every walk of life) who have been waiting with bated breath for the day of legalized marijuana. If Oxford history repeats itself, we could be seeing some “high times” coming our way!
The other reason why vape was a good choice for this year’s induction is the words it beat out.
The dictionary giant considered “bae” (a term for endearment), “indyref” (a popular hashtag for the Scottish independence referendum), “contactless” (as in wireless payments), “slacktivism” (slacker activism), all of which thankfully did not make top honors. Could you imagine if those words were acknowledged? “My bae is a strong supporter of slactivism.” That sentence is enough to send douche chills down the spine of any post-millennial!
Which poses the question: Do new words have to be added yearly? There is going to come a time when a valid option is not available to the folks at Oxford, and in such a case they may have to settle. We came close a few years back when YOLO was being considered, but we luckily dodged that bullet. Unfortunately, that was bad news for thousands of silk-screen companies that made the YOLO T-shirts that hung outside of so many small shops and were sold to pimple-faced kids helping us to differentiate generational dick bags.
The most entertaining part of the new word additions is listening to older generations trying to use them in a sentence. Maybe it is that we are just used to hearing rambling nonsense coming out of the mouths of our youth, but there is something so unnatural about seeing an adult trying to stay hip by forcing a new vocabulary word in a public forum. Like when everyone went around saying “ping me.” Sure, it may be a legitimate phrase, but I’d prefer it not to be. I’ll stick with the language that suits my age as I wait for the legalization of marijuana, so that I can smoke it in my vape and tune out all of the insanity.
Tom Roarty is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.