'Rizz', 'de-influencing' and 'beige flags': The finalists for Oxford's Word of the Year are extremely Gen Z

Oxford University Press just announced its 2023 Word of the Year: "rizz".

According to OUP, the word comes from the middle part of the word "charisma" ("ris" = "rizz") and describes "someone's ability to attract another person through style, charm, or attractiveness." It beat out countless other contenders after receiving 32,000 votes and a special review by a team of language experts.

Though "rizz" has existed since at least 2022, usage spiked in 2023. YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat said on the No Jumper podcast in June 2022 that he and his friends created the term to describe a slightly different definition — "a scenario in which a woman goes from being uninterested to being intrigued."

"Oh yeah, I rizzed her up. I got mad rizz," he said, illustrating how the term might be used in a sentence.

In June 2023, the word reached its peak usage when actor Tom Holland spoke about his "rizz" — used as a synonym for charisma, in this instance — in a BuzzFeed video.

"I have no rizz whatsoever," Holland admitted at the time. "I have limited rizz."

Since then, the new term has worked its way into the popular lexicon, appearing in tons of TikTok memes for months. The word has even evolved to include "unspoken rizz," referring to the subtle charm some men naturally have without speaking, and "rizzing up," a synonym for flirting.

Likewise, the noun "rizzler" refers to someone with exceptional charm who easily picks up women.

"Rizz" was among dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster's top words of the year, but "authentic" outranked it.

Another 2023 Word of the Year finalist, according to Oxford's blog, includes "situationship," which refers to "a romantic or sexual relationship that is not considered to be formal or established." There was also "prompt," which is used in the context of "an instruction given to an artificial intelligence program, algorithm, etc., which determines or influences the content it generates."

Additional terms that dominated our conversations in 2023 included "Swiftie" (a Taylor Swift mega-fan), as well as "beige flag" (a character trait that indicates a partner or potential partner is boring).

Other words on the shortlist tied directly into our social media habits, such as "de-influencing," which is the practice of discouraging people from buying particular products or encouraging them to reduce their consumption over all.

In general, 2023 has been a banner year for "absurdist slang." TikTokers sing songs packed with many strange new phrases, including "fanum tax," "ohio" and "gyat."

That said, OUP's language experts are certainly no strangers to the ever-evolving English language. The company released its first annual word list in 2003 and has been closely following the rise of Gen Z slang terms for years now as they quickly take over TikTok and our everyday lives.

The Word of the Year title goes to a word or expression that has attracted a high level of interest in the previous year. According to Oxford's site, it reflects the "ethos, mood, or preoccupations" of the public and has "lasting potential as a word of cultural significance."

Previous winners have included terms like "Goblin mode" (2022), "vax" (2021), "climate emergency" (2019) and "selfie" (2013). Last year, the two runners-up were "Metaverse" and the popular public awareness hashtag #IStandWith.

Thumbnail credit: @BuzzFeedCeleb, @NoJumperClips / Screenshot YouTube