“As 2014 draws to a close, it’s time to look back and see which words have been significant throughout the past twelve months, and to announce the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year“, says Oxford on their website’s blog. “Without further ado, we can exclusively reveal that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2014 is…. vape”.
According to Oxford, the word vape originated “as an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize. The OxfordDictionaries.com definition was added in August 2014: the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device’, while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape. The associated noun vaping is also listed.”
So why did Oxford choose the word vape?
“As e-cigarettes (or e-cigs) have become much more common, so vape has grown significantly in popularity. You are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year.”
They continue; “Usage of vape peaked in April 2014.. around the time that the UK’s first ‘vape café’ (The Vape Lab in Shoreditch, London) opened its doors, and protests were held in response to New York City banning indoor vaping. In the same month, the issue of vaping was debated by The Washington Post, the BBC, and the British newspaper The Telegraph, amongst others.”
According to Oxford, the words “vape” and “vaping” aren’t as new as some people think; “Although e-cigarettes weren’t commercially available until the 21st century, a 1983 article in New Society entitled ‘Why do People Smoke?’ contains the first known usage of the term. The author, Rob Stepney, described what was then a hypothetical device:
“an inhaler or ‘non-combustible’ cigarette, looking much like the real thing, but…delivering a metered dose of nicotine vapour. (The new habit, if it catches on, would be known as vaping.)”
Here’s the shortlist of other words in contention for Word of the Year.
bae n. used as a term of endearment for one’s romantic partner.
budtender n. a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.
indyref, n. an abbreviation of ‘independence referendum’, in reference to the referendum on Scottish independence, held in Scotland on 18 September 2014, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
normcore n. a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.
slacktivism, n., informal actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website; a blend of slacker and activism.