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The Winning Word

The 2017 word of the year is … “youthquake.”

That’s according to the editors at Oxford Dictionaries. The noun is defined as “a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.” The Oxford editors say the word was used five times more in 2017 than in 2016. The catalyst for that surge, they report, was the June election in the United Kingdom called by Prime Minister Theresa May. A large number of young voters turned out for the election, prompting many media references to a “youthquake.”

The Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year is meant to reflect the mood of the past year but also have the potential to endure in the culture. Its winning pick in 2016 was “post-truth,” and in 2015, “emoji.” Oxford Dictionaries President Casper Grathwohl said youthquake is an interesting word from a linguistic standpoint.

“But most importantly for me, at a time when our language is reflecting a deepening unrest and exhausted nerves, it is a rare political word that sounds a hopeful note,” he wrote in a blog post on the Oxford Dictionaries website.

Two other dictionary companies tapped their top word for 2017: Merriam-Webster chose “feminism,” while selected “complicit.”