Experts at the dictionary said they had seen more than an 11,000 per cent rise in the use of “NFT”, which stands for non-fungible token.
An NFT is a unit of data stored on a blockchain which represents a unique digital item, such as graphic artwork. It is non-fungible because it cannot be replaced or copied.
Any digital creation, such as a picture, video, piece of music or a tweet can become an NFT.
In April, the woman in the viral “disaster girl” meme sold the original photograph as an NFT for 180 Ether, at the value of almost $500,000 (£374,000).
Alex Beecroft, the managing director of Collins Learning, said it is unusual for an abbreviation to have such a “meteoric rise” in usage.
“NFTs seem to be everywhere, from the arts sections to the financial pages and in galleries and auction houses and across social media platforms,” Beecroft said.
“Whether the NFT will have a lasting influence is yet to be determined, but its sudden presence in conversations around the world makes it very clearly our Word Of The Year.
“Its unique technicolour collision of art, technology and commerce has broken through the Covid-19 noise with dramatic effect.”
It is not the only tech-related word to make the top 10 list, with “crypto” and “metaverse” also proving popular.
In the past year, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin have dominated headlines since being endorsed by billionaire Elon Musk.
While Covid-19 restrictions have lifted across the UK, pandemic-related words such as “pingdemic”, “hybrid-working” and “double-vaxxed” are still dominating the list.
The word “pingdemic” emerged earlier this year when some retailers were forced to close shops after the NHS app “pinged” many employees, telling them to self-isolate because they had been in contact with someone with Covid-19.
The term “climate anxiety” has also made this year’s list, reflecting the public’s growing concern about the climate crisis.
Additionally, increased conversations surrounding gender identity and the representation of trans and non-binary people has led to a rise in the use of “neopronouns” – another new word on this year’s list.
The past year has seen several high-profile figures come out as non-binary, including The Crown star Emma Corrin, Elliot Page and Demi Lovato.
This year’s list has also been influenced by social media content, as well as popular culture. In March, TikTok user Hallie Cain created a video explaining the defintion of the word “cheugy”.
“It’s the opposite of trendy...used when someone still follows out of date trends,” she tells viewers.
In the video, which has since been viewed almost one million times, she proceeds to give a number of examples of “cheugy” trends, including graphic tees and herbal essences shampoo.
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