Oxford Dictionaries "Word of the Year" is the Face With Tears of Joy Emoji

By Gerald Lynch on at

The spelling tests of the future are going to be a lot easier than they were when you were growing up. Oxford Dictionaries has announced that its "Word of the Year" for 2015 is...not a word at all. Instead, it's the "Face with Tears of Joy" emoji.

The weepy smiley face beat out competition from "lumbersexual", "they", "on fleek" and "Dark Web" to take this year's title, with Oxford Dictionaries using research from mobile keyboard app makers Swiftkey to come to its decision. They found that the emoji accounted for 20 per cent and 17 per cent of all emoji use in the UK and United States respectively this year.

Oxford Dictionaries wrote in a blog post that the emoji “was chosen as the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.”

It's worth noting that Oxford Dictionaries is part of the Oxford University Press, but is a different arm than the much-lauded history-of-English OED. Oxford Dictionaries is instead interested in the evolving nature of language rather than its past, hence the focus on new words and forms of communication.

However, public opinion isn't behind the choice – a quick look at Twitter and the trending Oxford Dictionaries term is all it takes to reveal that. Perhaps even more tellingly, a poll on the Oxford Dictionaries website asking the public for their 2015 word of the year choices is seeing "refugees" significantly out in front. Considering the ongoing crisis, that's in truth a far more representative word to mark the year with, if not as headline-friendly.

Find the complete shortlist below. [Oxford Dictionaries]

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