Word of the Year

Published November 23, 2015

The Oxford Dictionary has selected its “Word of the Year” for 2015. For the first time ever, the official authority of the English language has selected an emoji—a picture—for this honor.

The  emoji, also known as “face with tears of joy” pictograph, received the title for this year.    According to www.oxforddictionaries.com, the idea of using an emoji was the result of the growing popularity of these small digital images. Specifically, statistics from swiftkey.com identified the “face with tears of joy” image made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those used in the United States this year. Oxforddictionaries.com even cited tweets by Hilary Clinton, actress Zendaya, and Domino’s Pizza recently using the emoji as evidence of its popularity.

As a former journalism major, the idea of awarding the “Word of the Year” to a picture is a little disconcerting. It’s comforting to know that other journalists like Joanna Stern from the Wall Street Journal agree. Stern cleverly expresses her reluctance to buy into the emoji by actually using a plethora of pictographs in a column from last May (http://graphics.wsj.com/how-i-learned-to-love-writing-with-emojis/).

While the word crafter in me is a little disappointed in the “Word of the Year” selection, working for a technology company has taught me a lesson that applies to many fields—journalism included: the industry is constantly changing. In order to stay relevant, you have to change with the times. And that is exactly what Oxford Dictionaries has done, with or without my stamp of approval.