If you have faced those days in the Covid pandemic when you did nothing but lay on your bed listening to music idly while your unwashed clothes piled on the side of your bed and your takeout boxes covered up your apartment, you have experienced the “goblin mode” — which was chosen by the Oxford Dictionary as the word of the year for 2022 by popular vote. 

The word of the year was chosen by popular vote from the public for the first time. The people had a choice between “Goblin mode,” “metaverse,” and “#IStandWith.”

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Ninety three percent of people voted for “Goblin mode” with the number totalling to 318,956 votes. “Metaverse” came second and “#IStandWith” came third.

Casper Grathwohl, president of OUP’s Oxford Languages, said that the “level of engagement with the campaign caught us totally by surprise.”

“Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘Goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point. It’s a relief to acknowledge that we’re not always the idealized, curated selves that we’re encouraged to present on our Instagram and TikTok feeds,” he said.

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What is Goblin Mode?

According to Oxford University Press (OUP), the slang term refers to a type of behavior that is “unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” In short, the term refers to the opposite of trying to better yourself.

Although the term went viral earlier this year, it was first used way back in 2019. It rose to prominence after being included in a fake news headline about Kanye West and Julia Fox. The news alleged that the two broke up after the latter went into “goblin mode.”

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“The term then rose in popularity over the months following as Covid lockdown restrictions eased in many countries and people ventured out of their homes more regularly,” according to the OUP. “Seemingly, it captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’, or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media.”

“People are embracing their inner goblin, and voters choosing ‘goblin mode’ as the Word of the Year tells us the concept is likely here to stay,” Grathwohl said. 

The term was again quoted in The Guardian, when the write wrote, “Goblin mode is like when you wake up at 2am and shuffle into the kitchen wearing nothing but a long t-shirt to make a weird snack, like melted cheese on saltines.”