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How Tom Holland and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat helped ‘rizz’ become the Oxford Word of 2023

Social media term fought off competition such as ‘Swiftie’ and ‘situationship’

Nicole Vassell
Monday 04 December 2023 11:46 GMT
Kai Cenat speaks after Union Square riot

Do you have style? Is your charm undeniable? Are you particularly adept at attracting a romantic or sexual partner?

If so, the Oxford Word of the Year, “rizz”, will surely already be firmly in your vocabulary.

The Oxford University Press announced the youth slang term as their word of 2023 on Monday (4 December), suggesting that it best represents the mood and motivations of the last 12 months.

The term, which has garnered widespread use across social media, is considered a shortened version of the word “charisma”, taken from its middle syllable.

Online streamer and YouTube star Kai Cenat is credited with bringing it to prominence across social media, after sharing a video with advice on how to have rizz in 2022. The word then rose in popularity on TikTok with the hashtag receiving billions of views and has taken on new interpretations and variations such as unspoken rizz.

But according to Oxford University Press, the word had an even higher uptick in usage after star of the Spider-Man films Tom Holland was asked about his rizz level in an interview earlier this year.

Tom Holland and Kai Cenat – unlimited rizz (Getty)

“I have no rizz whatsoever, I have limited rizz,” Holland told BuzzFeed, which then sparked further discussion and usage of the word.

The language organisation noted that rizz has some similarities to the term “game”, which has been used since the 1970s and is defined as “skill, prowess, or technique; the ability to impress; spec. the ability to attract others sexually by using one’s charm or charisma in an artful way”.

To be selected as the Oxford Word of the Year, rizz was on a shortlist of eight prominent terms of 2023, after language experts narrowed them down from the “22-billion-word corpus of language” at their disposal.

From Monday 27 to Thursday 30 November, members of the general public were invited to cast their votes for different terms in a head-to-head battle.

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The words were: Swiftie vs de-influencing; beige flag vs rizz; situationship vs parasocial; heat dome vs prompt.

Taylor Swift fans, ‘Swifties’, narrowly missed out on being the word of 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Languages, shared the organisation’s excitement after seeing thousands of people weigh in on the word of the year.

“It has been incredible to see the public once again enjoying being a part of the Word of the Year selection,” he explained. “Witnessing thousands of people debate and discuss language like this really highlights the power it has in helping us to understand who we are, and process what’s happening to the world around us.”

The word of 2022, “goblin mode”, is defined as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”.

Grathwohl added that the current popularity of rizz, in sharp contrast to goblin mode, signifies a change of mood in the last year.

“Given that last year ‘goblin mode’ resonated with so many of us after the pandemic, it’s interesting to see a contrasting word like rizz come to the forefront, perhaps speaking to a prevailing mood of 2023, where more of us are opening ourselves up after a challenging few years and finding confidence in who we are,” he noted.

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