Does she laugh with her body like what you said is the funniest thing she ever heard in her entire life? Does she anticipate every message you send? Does he watch your favorite movies? Does he hold you when you cry? Does he let you tell him all your parts when you’ve seen it a million times? Wait, that’s already a song lyric. But if there is someone who performs all of that for you, you definitely got the rizz!
First time encountering what “rizz” is? Then, it is the right time to catch up to the trend as the Gen Z slang has been officially named this year’s word of the year by Oxford University Press (OUP), considered to be the second oldest academic press in the world and the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary.
According to OUP, it is defined as style, charm, or attractiveness, as well as the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner. Believed to be rooted in the word “charisma”, it can also be used as a verb in phrases like “to rizz up” which means to attract, seduce, or chat someone up. Essentially, it is a newer and younger variant of “game” which means skill, prowess, and the ability to attract others sexually by using one’s charm.
“Rizz” was first recorded in 2022 with popular YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat who is widely regarded as having popularized the term to a wider audience, which he constantly used with his friends. Despite this, it truly gained its worldwide virality this year when Spider-Man actor Tom Holland answered a question regarding the secret to his rizz in an interview: “I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz.” He then explained how he and his girlfriend, actress Zendaya, his Spider-man co-star, got together which is by playing the “long game”.
Holland’s funny and humble remark immediately blew up on the internet as it produced countless memes and the overall usage of the word enormously increased by a factor of about 15, said the publisher. The slang is now regularly used online with the hashtag “rizz” raking up billions of views on the video-sharing platform TikTok.
It is a big W for the British as it went victorious over the term “beige flag” (a character trait indicating that a partner or potential partner is boring) in the final deliberations. Chosen by language experts at OUP, the other six shortlisted contenders included “Swiftie” (an enthusiastic fan of famous artist Taylor Swift, “situationship” (an informal romantic or sexual relationship), and “prompt” (an instruction given to an artificial intelligence program).
Besides that, other terms that were eliminated are: “parasocial” (a relationship characterized by the one-sided, unreciprocated intimacy felt by a fan or follower for a well-known figure), “heat dome” (a persistent high-pressure weather system over a particular geographical area), and “de-influencing” (the practice of discouraging people from buying particular products or reducing their consumption through social media).
The said university press assured that the remaining words may eventually be added to dictionaries “after assessment of their longevity, frequency, and breadth of usage.”
OUP highlighted the word “boomed on social media”, showcasing how quick and impactful the internet is in bringing an obscure language to the mainstream scene. “This is a story as old as language itself, but stories of linguistic evolution and expansion that used to take years can now take weeks or months,” the university press emphasized.
Additionally, they further detailed that the modern slang “speaks to how younger generations create spaces – online or in person – where they own and define the language they use. From activism to dating and wider culture, as gen Z comes to have more impact on society, differences in perspectives and lifestyle play out in language, too.”
At least 30,000 word lovers offered assistance to ultimately decide head-to-head competitions between pairs of words or phrases. The mentioned list containing eight words was thoroughly selected by language experts at OUP. Afterward, the list underwent public voting in late November, retaining only four among the finalists, before Oxford lexicographers made the last decision.
In 2022, the public was allowed to choose the year’s winner with the majority of them voting for “goblin mode” which is a slang term describing “unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy” behavior.
Furthermore, Oxford Languages president Casper Grathwohl stated witnessing thousands of people forming a debate and discussing language “really highlights the power it has in helping us to understand who we are, and process what’s happening in the world around us”.
“It’s interesting to see a contrasting word like ‘rizz’ come to the forefront, perhaps speaking to the prevailing mood of 2023, where more of us are opening ourselves up after a challenging few years and finding confidence in who we are,” the president continued as the word “goblin mode” heavily resonated with numerous individuals.
Past notable words of the year include “vax” (2021), “climate emergency” (2019), and “selfie” (2013).
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