“Rizz” was declared the word of the year for 2023 by Oxford University Press, a choice that reflects its significant cultural impact. This term, rooted in internet slang, encapsulates the concept of romantic appeal or charm. Its selection by Oxford shows how popular the word is and how often it’s used, particularly among the Gen Z generation. But what is Rizz, what does it mean, how do you use it and why is it the word of the year for 2023?

What is Rizz?

What is Rizz and what does it mean Oxford University Press Word of the Year

“Rizz” is a term that has gained significant traction, particularly within internet culture. Originating from Black culture, which has been a source of many American neologisms, “rizz” is a colloquial term that’s short for “charisma.” It was popularised by streamer Kai Cenat and has since become a part of the broader lexicon. The word reflects a certain charm or appeal, often in the context of romantic or social interactions.

What does Rizz mean?

Rizz essentially refers to an individual’s charm or charisma. It’s a quality that makes someone appealing or attractive in a subtle, often non-physical way. The term encapsulates a certain ease and effectiveness in social interactions, especially in winning over others or in dating scenarios

How do you use Rizz?

“Rizz” is used to describe someone’s innate ability to attract or charm others. For example, saying “He has a lot of rizz” implies that the person possesses a natural, charismatic allure. It can be used in various contexts, from casual conversations to social media, to comment on someone’s charismatic qualities, especially in romantic contexts

Why is Rizz Oxford University’s Word of the Year for 2023?

“Rizz” was chosen as Oxford’s word of the year for 2023 due to its significant cultural impact and widespread usage, particularly among the younger generation. Its selection reflects the evolving nature of language and how internet culture and youth slang can influence mainstream vocabulary. The term not only resonated with a broad audience but also captured the mood and preoccupations of the year, particularly in how people interact and present themselves in social settings.

Which other words were considered for 2023?

Swifties considered for word of the year
Source: Instagram

For 2023, experts shortlisted eight words and phrases that mirror the year’s top mood and concerns. These words were presented to the public in a series of head-to-head voting battles, eventually narrowing down to four finalists.

The final selection was made after a comprehensive analysis of language usage data, considering public votes and comments on the finalists. The ultimate Oxford Word of the Year for 2023 was then announced to be ‘Rizz’.

The contenders were:

Swiftie vs. de-influencing

  • Swiftie: A devoted fan of Taylor Swift.
  • de-influencing: The act of dissuading people from purchasing specific products, often via social media.

Beige flag vs. rizz

  • beige flag: A trait suggesting a person is uninteresting or unoriginal.
  • rizz: The ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner through charm or style.

Heat dome vs. prompt

  • heat dome: A weather pattern trapping hot air in a region.
  • prompt: A command or instruction guiding the output of an AI program or algorithm.

Parasocial vs. situationship

  • parasocial: A one-sided perceived intimacy with a famous person.
  • situationship: An informal romantic or sexual relationship.

 

What are the past words of the year?

past words of the year Oxford University Press

Here is a list of the Oxford Word of the Year for the last ten years, from 2004 to 2023:

2004: ‘Chav’ – A derogatory term used to describe a young lower-class person who displays brash and loutish behaviour and wears real or imitation designer clothes.

2005: ‘Sudoku’ – A puzzle in which players insert the numbers one to nine into a grid consisting of nine squares subdivided into a further nine smaller squares in such a way that every number appears once in each horizontal line, vertical line, and square.

2006: ‘Bovvered’ – A slang term meaning not bothered or unconcerned, popularised by the British comedy series “The Catherine Tate Show.”

2007: Not specified for the UK in the provided sources.

2008: ‘Credit Crunch’ – A severe shortage of money or credit, the first signs of the financial crisis that began in 2008.

2009: ‘Simples’ – A catchphrase from a UK television advertisement, used to indicate that something is very straightforward.

2010: ‘Big Society’ – A political ideology in the UK, introduced by the Conservative Party, promoting decentralised community-based social action.

2011: Not specified for the UK in the provided sources.

2012: ‘Omnishambles’ – A situation that is seen as shambolic from every possible angle, originally coined by the writers of the satirical television program “The Thick of It.”

2013: ‘Selfie’ – Referring to a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a smartphone.

2014: ‘Vape’ – The act of inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.

2015: ‘πŸ˜‚’ (Face with Tears of Joy emoji) – Used to signify laughter or amusement.

2016: ‘Post-truth’ – Relating to circumstances where emotional or personal beliefs have more influence on public opinion than objective facts.

2017: ‘Youthquake’ – A significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.

2018: ‘Toxic’ – Used to describe a toxic environment, relationship, etc., often used in the context of public discourse on climate change, chemical weapons, and the #MeToo movement.

2019: ‘Climate emergency’ – Used to describe the urgent action needed to combat climate change.

2020: Not a single word, but several words were highlighted due to the unprecedented nature of the year, including ‘COVID-19’, ‘lockdown’, ‘social distancing’, and ‘Black Lives Matter’.

2021: ‘Vax’ – Short for vaccine, reflecting the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

How is the Word of the Year decided?

In a historic move in 2022, the decision for Word of the Year was entirely entrusted to the public. Nearly 400,000 individuals engaging in social media discussions. The term ‘goblin mode’ ultimately won with 93% of the votes.

Before 2022, the Oxford Word of the Year was selected by language experts at Oxford Languages, the division of Oxford University Press responsible for the dictionary. The process did not involve a public vote. Instead, the team of experts would choose a word or expression that reflected the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past year. This decision was based on their analysis of language data, including word usage frequency and cultural significance. The chosen word was meant to highlight the lasting interest or significance in the context of the year’s events and trends. It was only in 2022 that the selection process was opened to the public for the first time, allowing English speakers worldwide to cast their votes.

What are people’s reactions to ‘Rizz’ being Word of the Year for 2023?

One of our favourite reactions was posted by WWF Canada. This animal perfectly embodies ‘Rizz’ in our eyes!

Seems lots of other people are looking to animals that have ‘Rizz’ too…

 

Other reactions weren’t as playful or happy with the choice of word. One twitter post claimed that Rizz represents misogyny:

Meanwhile, celebs are either trying to use it or just simply don’t know how. Here’s Tom Hanks attempting to get on board with Oxford University’s Word of the Year.

 

So what do you think of Rizz?Β  Is it something you use in your daily life? For other inspiration, make sure you check out our student guide to Roadman Slang, complete with examples and their meaning.