Youthquake, Feminism: Words Of The Year

Image: Maria Reyes-McDavis

“Youthquake” is the word that the Oxford English Dictionary has chosen as its word of the year.

Every year, many dictionaries choose their “word of the year.” They may choose it because it had a special meaning for the year, or because it was suddenly being used much more than before.

“Youthquake” was used five times more this year than last year, according to the Oxford dictionary website.

Oxford defines youthquake as “a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.”

It became a popular word after the last British election, when many young people got involved to support the Labour Party. Although the Conservatives eventually won that election, more young people came out to vote than any election for the past 25 years.

The US dictionary Merriam-Webster has named “feminism” its word of the year for 2017.

They define feminism as, “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes,” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

Both youthquake and feminism were popular words in the 1960s.

Related links:

Read more about Oxford dictionary’s word of the year:

A behind-the-scenes look at how “youthquake” was chosen.

Read more about Merriam-Webster’s word of the year:

A behind-the-scenes look at how “feminism” was chosen.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
If you had to pick two words that you used a lot/overused this year, what words would you pick? Try to think of words that capture how you felt or what you were thinking about.

Reading Prompt: Reading Unfamiliar Words
Youthquake and feminism went up against many other words, to win word of the year.

Do you know the definitions of some of the following words that were almost chosen, or could you guess them?
1. Antifa
2. Broflake
3. Corpcore
4. Milkshake Duck
5. Newsjacking

Junior and Intermediate
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including: meaning, language structure and phonological cues (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Language Feature:
Reflect on the two chosen words, “youthquake” and “feminism”. Read the descriptions of these two words carefully and think about how the meanings of these words are similar.