Words – and emoji – of the year 2015

The choices of word (or sometimes emoji) of the year reflect social, economic and technological trends and focus. This year is no exception.

In 2015 a Facebook app (with all the associated privacy concerns) identified individual users' most popular words and presented them in a word cloud.  The app proved immensely popular, peaking at millions of shares per day.

Meanwhile, most of the words of the year 2015 have now been decided.  Here’s a round-up:

Emoji winners

The growth of popularity of emojis continues.  The choice of an emoji as word of the year reflects the growing importance of mobile and visual communications.  Oxford Dictionaries, which last year chose vape, has chosen the face with tears of joy emoji.  (Last year, Global Language Monitor chose the emoji heart.)

Words of the year as social commentary

Several language and linguistic experts have highlighted the growth of the use of gender-neutral pronoun 'they'. Historically the use of they as a singular has been considered ungrammatical – although this hasn’t stopped people using the word.  Now, the debate around gender politics is leading to a growing acceptance of the use of they as a non-binary gender identifier.  It has entered the Washington Post style guide.

Some tech words of the year

Additional reading: The Web of Language blog by Dennis Baron.