In a year in which musician Grimes sold a collection of digital artwork for almost $ 6million (£ 4.4million) and the original photo behind the Disaster Girl meme of 2005 for $ 473,000 (£ 354,000), Collins Dictionary made NFT its Word of the Year.
The abbreviation for non-fungible token has seen a “meteoric” increase in use over the past year, Collins said, up 11,000% last year. Any digital creation can become an NFT, the term for a certificate of ownership, registered on a blockchain, or a digital register of transactions. The most valuable NFT to date is a collage by digital artist Beeple, which sold for £ 50.3million at Christie’s in March.
Collins defines NFT as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, which is used to register ownership of an asset such as a work of art or a collector’s item”; its lexicographers, who monitor the Collins Corpus of 4.5 billion words to choose their word of the year, said they opted for the NFT because it demonstrates a “unique technicolor collision of art, technology and trade “which” shattered the noise of Covid “to become ubiquitous.
“It’s unusual for an abbreviation to see such a dramatic increase in usage, but the data we have from Collins Corpus reflects the remarkable ascendancy of NFT in 2021,” said Alex Beecroft, managing director of Collins Learning. “NFTs seem to be everywhere, from art sections and financial pages, to galleries and auction houses and on social media platforms. Whether the NFT will have a lasting influence remains to be seen, but its sudden presence in conversations around the world makes it very clearly our Word of the Year.
Last month, the Oxford English Dictionary named vax as its word of the year, noting that in September the use of the word had increased more than 72 times from the previous year.
NFT beat two other tech words on Collins’ 10 Words of the Year shortlist: crypto, the short form of cryptocurrency, whose use is up 468% year-over-year, according to Collins, and Metaverse, a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. Describing a three-dimensional virtual world – like the one predicted by Meta, Mark Zuckerberg’s renowned Facebook company – metaverse usage has grown 12-fold since 2020.
Other words and phrases in the running included Covid-focused pingdemia, hybrid work and double vaxxed, while climate anxiety was also on the list, reflecting growing concerns about climate change.
Collins also noted an increase in neopronom use, thanks to ongoing conversations about gender and portrayal of trans and non-binary people; he defines the word as “a recently invented pronoun, in particular a pronoun designed to avoid gender distinctions”.
Collins chose ‘containment’ as the word of the year in 2020 and ‘climate strike’ in 2019.
Collins’ 10 best words of 2021
TVN (ˌƐnɛfˈtiː) abbreviation of
1 Non-fungible token: a unique digital certificate, saved in a blockchain, which is used to register ownership of an asset such as a work of art or a collector’s item.
2 an asset whose ownership is registered by means of a non-fungible token: the artist sold the work as NFT
cheugy (ˈTʃuːɡɪ) adjective, slang
no longer considered cool or fashionable
climate anxiety (ˈKlaɪmət æŋˈzaɪɪtɪ) name
a state of distress caused by concerns about climate change
cryptography (ˈKrɪptəʊ) name, informal
short for cryptocurrency: a decentralized digital medium of exchange that is created, regulated, and traded using cryptography and (usually) open source software, and typically used for online shopping
double vaxxed (ˌDʌbəlˈvækst) adjective, informal
have received two vaccines against a disease. Also: double stitching
hybrid operation (ˌHaɪbrɪd ˈwɜːkɪŋ) name
the practice of alternating between different work environments, such as at home and in the office
metaverse (ˈMɛtəˌvɜːs) name
a proposed version of the Internet that integrates three-dimensional virtual environments
neopronom (ˌNiːəʊˈprəʊˌnaʊn) name
a recently coined pronoun, especially a pronoun designed to avoid gender distinctions
pingemia (ˌPɪŋˈdɛmɪk) name, informal
large-scale notification of members of the public through a contact tracing application
Regencycore (ˈRiːdʒənsɪˌkɔː) name
a dress style inspired by clothes worn in high society during the Regency period (1811-1820). Also called: Regency chic