“Metaverse” in race to win Oxford Word of The Year 2022

Adeniyi Odukoya
Metaverse

Oxford University Press has picked “Metaverse” as one of the top three words in the race for Oxford’s Word of The Year.

It is likely that years from now, metaverse and cryptocurrency will be popular terms that will linger on the lips of future generations because they have been used serially in the last couple of years in discussions about the advancement of the internet.

Metaverse is a vision of what many people believe is the next phase of the internet: a single, shared, immersive, persistent, 3D virtual space where humans experience life in ways they could not in the physical world. 

All you need to know about the Metaverse and 4 cool ways you can benefit from it

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Some of the technologies that provide access to this virtual world, such as virtual reality (VR) headsets and augmented reality (AR) glasses, are evolving quickly; other critical components of the metaverse, such as adequate bandwidth or interoperability standards, are probably years off or might never materialize.

The concept is not new: The term metaverse was coined in 1992 by author Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel Snow Crash, and work on the technologies that underpin a virtual reality-based internet dates back decades.

Oxford Word of The Year?

The Oxford Word of The Year award is an initiative of Oxford University Press. Words shortlisted by the press intensely contest for the award. In the past, the award was never made to be decided by public polls. But this year seems to take a different and unexpected shift.  

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The public will vote for the Oxford word of the year for the first time. Since “the true arbiters of language” are “people around the world”, Oxford Languages has decided to put the final decision on the 2022 word in the hands of the English-speaking public. 

Voting is now accessible online, and over the next two weeks, English speakers can cast their vote, picking from three words selected by Oxford University Press (OUP)’s lexicographers, each of which is strongly opined to capture “the mood and ethos of the last year in its own way.”

Casper Grathwohl— president of Oxford Languages, explained that the choice to open the contest to the public was slightly due to living in a “post-Covid era”.

“Over the past year the world reopened, and it is in that spirit we’re opening up the selection process for the word of the year to language lovers everywhere,” he said. “We are all participants in the evolving story of English, and after making it through another hard year we thought word lovers would appreciate being brought into the process with us.”

Metaverse, #IstandWith and Goblin Mode ahead

The top three words selected by Oxford University Press are “Metaverse”, “#IstandWith” and “Goblin Mode”.

In Oxford’s video pitch for metaverse, it described it as “a hypothetical virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way.”

All you need to know about the Metaverse and 4 cool ways you can benefit from it

“The term dates back to the 1990s, with the first recorded use in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1992 in the science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson,” the video stated.

Oxford noted that “metaverse” quadrupled in usage in Oct. 2022 compared with October 2021. The video stated that more lifestyle and work-related activities in virtual reality environments may bring about “more debates over the ethics and feasibility of an entirely online future.”

Though the metaverse terrain might seem underexplored, its enlistment as one of the top three words for the Oxford Word of the Year award signals its noticeable waves.


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