Move over, "selfie." The 2014 Oxford Dictionaries' international Word of the Year is "vape."
The term, attached to the billion-dollar electronic cigarette industry, is defined by Oxford as follows:
Inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device
An electronic cigarette or similar device; an act of inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device
Oxford added the word to its online dictionary in August, and it is being considered for future inclusion in the print version.
"As vaping has gone mainstream, with celebrities from Lindsay Lohan to Barry Manilow giving it a go, and with growing public debate on the public dangers and the need for regulation, the language usage of the word 'vape' and related terms in 2014 has shown a marked increase," an Oxford Dictionaries blog post explains, quoting Judy Pearsall, its editorial director.
Electronic cigarettes were invented in 2003, but the earliest known usage of "vape" occurred in 1983, when a writer described a hypothetical "non-combustible cigarette" that would deliver a "metered dose of nicotine vapor."
"The new habit, if it catches on, would be known as vaping," Rob Stepney wrote in New Society, a magazine published in London until 1988.
"Thus, it seems that vaping the word existed before vaping the phenomenon," Pearsall notes.
Vape beat out several other words on the Oxford 2014 shortlist, including:
- bae: noun used as "a term of endearment for one's romantic partner."
- budtender: noun, "a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop."
- normcore: "A trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement."
- slacktivism: "noun, informal: Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website."
In 2013, "selfie" was the runaway choice for word of the year among Oxford editors.
"This is a little unusual," Oxford said at the time.
"Normally there will be some good-natured debate as one person might champion their particular choice over someone else's. But this time, everyone seemed to be in agreement almost from the start."