Vape is Officially Word of the Year

We knew that vaping was taking off and that the word had found its way into people’s hearts, minds and grateful lungs. But even when you know you’re making a difference, it’s still nice to get validation from a reputable institution. In case you missed the news story, The Oxford Dictionary has named “vape” as Word of the Year, 2014.

Linguists at Oxford Dictionary argue that the word has more than doubled in use since 2013 and that you are thirty times more likely to hear the word than you would have been a year ago. “Vaping” will be in the Oxford online dictionary, and may appear in future print editions.

As defined on the Oxford Dictionary blog, “vape” is both a verb (“Inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device”) and a noun (“An electronic cigarette or similar device; an act of inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device”).


Why is Vape in the dictionary?

Explaining their reasons for choosing vape over other words, the Oxford Dictionary site said: “Over the last five years sales of electronic cigarettes have grown from almost nothing to a multi-million-$ industry and the habit has gone mainstream. Where in the early days the use was primarily driven by smokers choosing a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, more recently the industry has gained its own momentum and new audience.  A gap emerged in the lexicon, as a word was needed to describe this activity, and distinguish it from ‘smoking’. The word vape arose to fill this gap, and it has proliferated along with the habit.

Vape beats ‘bae’ and ‘normcore’ to the top spot

Vape won the coveted title over runners up, including “indyref” (referring to Scotland’s recent referendum), “bae” (a romantic term of endearment), “normcore” (“a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement”) and “slactivism” (“actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement”).

The Oxford Dictionary word of the year story is now becoming an institution, with major media outlets all reporting on the annual winner. To illustrate just how big the story has become, a quick Google search for “vape Oxford Dictionary” will yield over 4.8million results (and counting).

Here’s an excerpt from Time’s report on the story: “Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford’s dictionaries division, said. ‘Vape only really caught on a few years ago and now we’ve seen a dramatic rise.’

“But, he notes, Oxford doesn’t choose a word of the year simply based on how much ink has been spilt writing it. ‘A word is just the surface of something that often has a really complex and rich life underneath.’”

“Vape” has certainly risen in reputation and profile this past year, with famous vapers as diverse as wild child movie star Lindsay Lohan, indie movie icon John Cusack and music legend Barry Manilow all publically embracing vaping (the word and the act). While public debate, media coverage and even TV advertising has addressed the practice.

So take a bow, “vape”, you join the hallowed halls of previous words of the year, including “selfie” (2013), “omnishambles” (2012) and “squeezed middle” (2011). We have a feeling vape will linger longer than previous Word of the Year winners…



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