Collins Dictionary's word of the year is unsurprisingly bleak


The Collins Word of the Year for 2021.


2021 has been one of the longest years on record — a months-long sigh of discontent, really. Remember when armed protesters forcefully entered the U.S. Capitol? Yeah, that was this year. So anyway, it’s about that time when we look back on the last twelve months or so and try to recall what even happened. It’s a time of contemplation and superlatives, like “Word of the Year.”

This year’s most important word, according to Collins Dictionary, is “NFT.” And though non-fungible tokens themselves probably weren’t the most important thing to happen this year, we’re inclined to agree that the word NFT itself was, indeed, the buzziest of the year.

A fair amount of that buzz can be attributed to the fact that the very concept of an NFT was foreign to the majority of the world’s population before 2021. If we were choosing a Phrase Of The Year, it would likely be What even is an NFT?

The year of the NFT — We began 2021 blissfully unaware of how much the NFT scene would blow up in just a few months’ time. Sure, early adopters understood the technology’s potential, but the general public hadn’t even registered “NFT” as an independent concept yet.

“NFT” really picked up steam in March.Google Trends

By March, though, NFTs had blown up across the internet. Soon just about everyone was finding uses for NFTs. From hypebeast sneakers to explicit audio sex tapes, NFTs had taken over the internet.

There was a moment in April when we briefly contemplated the possibility that NFT market might crash sooner rather than later. We were very much wrong.

As much of the world continued pleading with crypto bros to please, for the love of god, explain to them what “NFT” even meant, plenty of others had pivoted to using the technology for malicious purposes. Fake art and IP nightmares were only the beginning. Sketchy men pretended to be women in the name of NFTs. Someone bought a free clipart rock for $1.3 million. More than one NFT project has turned out to be racist.

Some other contenders — Along with the winner, Collins Dictionary also released a list of the other top contenders considered for Word of the Year. The list is — as you’d expect in 2021 — bleak:

  • climate anxiety
  • double-vaxxed
  • metaverse
  • pingdemic
  • cheugy
  • crypto
  • hybrid working
  • neopronoun
  • regencycore

Some shortlisted words would’ve really put up a good fight against “NFT” (“climate anxiety” and “crypto” hit particularly hard), while others definitely seem like more of a stretch (still unclear what “pingdemic” and “regencycore” really are).

Will NFTs rule 2022 as well? Let’s hope not. Not even because they’re necessarily bad — it would just be nice if something else took over the news cycle for a while.