Can you guess what the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is? Hint: it’s not a word

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Hayley Kadrou

Each year, the Oxford Dictionary does us the kind favour of naming a Word of the Year, to keep everybody up to date with the newest expressions that are taking over our day-to-day vernacular in the ever-evolving English language.

But this year, surprisingly, it’s not a word at all that has come out top trump, as the Oxford Dictionaries have announced none other than the ‘face with tears of joy’ has won the title – yes, the emoji you use to comment on that funny cat Vine your friend has tagged you in.

The humour-expressing emoji was up against ‘lumbersexual’, ‘on fleek’, 'refugee' and 'they' in the search for the word that perfectly “captures the ethos, mood or preoccupations of that particular year.”

Oxford Dictionaries explained that emojis have “come to embody a core aspect of living in a digital world that is visually driven, emotionally expressive, and obsessively immediate.”

Laughing Crying face

Emojis have been around since the 1990s, but in today’s truly digital age they're more popular than ever, as we constantly look for quicker, snappier ways to communicate, and 2015 has seen a particular peak in their usage.When Oxford Dictionaries partnered with mobile technology business SwiftKey to look at the figures, it was revealed that the ‘face with tears of joy’ made up 20% of all UK emoji’s used, making it the stand-out choice.

Speaking of the pictograph being the first ever to make Word of the Year, the President of Oxford Dictionaries, Casper Grathwohl said:

“You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st Century communication. It’s not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps—it’s flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully.

“As a result emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders. When Andy Murray tweeted out his wedding itinerary entirely in emoji, for example, he shared a subtle mix of his feelings about the day directly with fans around the world. It was highly effective in expressing his emotions.”


Earlier in the year, Facebook studied how we expressed humour online, and concluded ‘Lol’, once the epitome of text and online talk, has fallen out of fashion, making up only 1.9% expression of choice in the sample data. Laughing emojis on the other hand made up 33.7%, demonstrating how increasingly emojis are becoming the easiest and sometimes most appropriate way to simply express ourselves.

And with last year’s word being ‘Selfie’, there’s a clear trend with the words associated with the digital realm being chosen. Any guesses for the Word of the Year 2016?

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Hayley Kadrou

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