The Oxford English Dictionary is published by Oxford University Press (OUP), which is also sponsoring a contest to choose one of three words to be its “Word of the Year” for the coming year (WOTY).
OUP announced the competition and selected its three 2022 finalists on November 22. A public vote for WOTY is being held for the first time this year.
“Metaverse” will face competition from terms like “#IStandWith” and “Goblin Mode.”
In their video pitch for the Metaverse, OUP described it as “a hypothetical virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way.”
The movie claims that the phrase first appeared in the 1990s when it was first used in Neil Stephenson’s science fiction book Snow Crash in 1992 (this dates the film to before the release of the Oxford English Dictionary online).
Oxford reports a fourfold rise in “Metaverse” usage since October 2021. The movie suggests that “additional arguments regarding the ethics and viability of a wholly online future” may arise when more everyday and work-related activities move into virtual reality settings.
As for the other two WOTY candidates, “#IStandWith” is a political action hashtag that has gained popularity, and “Goblin Mode” is a post-COVID-19 lockdown concept in which one refuses to “return back to normal” in favor of doing what they want to do.
OUP stated that they narrowed the pool of potential phrasal verbs down to just three through an analysis of a linguistic data system.
Votes for “Metaverse” or the other two candidates must be cast formally on the Oxford Languages website.
There have been about 237,000 ballots cast as of this writing, and voting is set to close on December 2.
Oxford did not specify a time frame for when the winning word would be announced.
As of this writing, 63% of 929 Twitter users surveyed by OUP liked “Goblin Mode,” followed by 22% who favored “Metaverse” and 15% who favored “#IStandWith.”
Regardless of the results of the survey, the Metaverse is poised to become a sizable industry in the not-too-distant future. McKinsey, a global consulting firm, recently released an estimate predicting that by 2030, technologies related to the Metaverse will be worth $5 trillion.
According to Citi, an investment firm, the total addressable market for the Metaverse economy could be anywhere from $8 to $13 trillion during the same period.
Many people’s conceptions of the Metaverse have been altered by developments in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries, as well as by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to rebrand Facebook as Meta in October 2021 and by recent advancements in its Metaverse products through its Reality Labs division.
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