‘Rizz’ Is Oxford’s 2023 Word of the Year

The word means “style, charm or attractiveness” or “the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner”

Girl with blonde hair reading Oxford English Dictionary
Rizz is unusual, in that it's an abbreviated version of the word "charisma" that comes from the middle of the word. Pixabay

“Rizz”—a shortened version of “charisma”—is Oxford’s Word of the Year for 2023, the dictionary publisher unveiled this week.

“Rizz” beat out a slew of other popular words—including “Swiftie” (shorthand for fans of Taylor Swift) and “situationship” (a romantic or sexual relationship that’s not established or formal)—to take the top spot.

Oxford’s official definition of “rizz” is “style, charm or attractiveness” or “the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.” It can also be used as a verb, such as to “rizz up” a person, which means to attract, seduce or chat them up.

The term first arose from gaming and internet culture, with YouTube and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat popularizing it in 2021, according to USA Today’s Olivia Munson. The word got even more attention in June, when English actor Tom Holland told Buzzfeed: “I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz.” From there, usage of “rizz” continued to skyrocket, with Oxford lexicologists estimating a 15-fold increase year over year.

“One of the reasons it’s moving from being a niche social media phrase into the mainstream is, it’s just fun to say,” says Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, to the New York Times’ Jennifer Schuessler. “When it comes off your tongue, there’s a little bit of joy that comes with it.”

“Rizz” is unusual, in that it comes from the middle of “charisma.” Most abbreviated versions of words come from the beginning or the end of words, like “rhino” from “rhinoceros” or “hood” from “neighborhood.” Though some shortened phrases do come from the middle—like “fridge” from “refrigerator”—this is less common, according to Oxford.

Lexicologists at Oxford University Press, the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, select the Word of the Year by looking at usage data of more than 22 billion English words.

To determine this year’s winner, the team first created a list of terms that surged in popularity throughout the year. Next, they invited the public to weigh in and vote on matchups like “Swiftie” vs. “de-influencing,” “rizz” vs. “beige flag,” “prompt” vs. “heat dome” and “parasocial” vs. “situationship.” Roughly 30,000 people voted to narrow down the final list. From there, Oxford’s team picked the winner.

Last year’s word was “goblin mode,” which describes “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

Curious about the other words that made this year’s short list? Here’s a quick snapshot, with definitions according to Oxford.

  • Beige flag (noun), a character trait that indicates that a partner or potential partner is boring or lacks originality
  • De-influencing (noun), the practice of discouraging consumers from buying specific products, or encouraging them to reduce their consumption of material goods
  • Heat dome (noun), a persistent, high-pressure weather system over a particular geographic area, which traps a mass of hot air below it
  • Parasocial (adjective), designating a relationship characterized by the one-sided relationship between a fan and a celebrity, in which the fan feels like they know the celebrity as a friend

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