Word of the year? Oxford Dictionaries says it’s positively ‘Toxic’

Oxford Dictionaries has chosen the word ‘toxic’ as their 2018 word of the year, with people using the term to describe to describe views, relationships, cultures and even politicians.

The adjective is defined as poisonous and first appeared in English in the mid-seventeenth century from the medieval toxicus, meaning poisoned or imbued with poison.

But Oxford Dictionaries said their research showed the word had been used in a variety of different contexts- with a 45 per cent increase in searches of the term on their website.

They added the ‘sheer scope’ of its application made it the ‘standout choice’ for word of the year.

They announced their decision via a video posted to their Twitter account.

The runners up in the word of the year contest were gaslighting, incel, techlash, gammon, big d*** energy, cakeism, overtourism and orbiting.

The video said: ‘Cut to 2018 and our research shows that this year, more than ever, people have been using toxic to describe a vast array of things, situations, concerns, and events.

‘In its original literal use to refer to poisonous substances toxic has been ever-present in discussions of the health of our communities and our environment.

‘With toxic air, toxic algae, toxic chemicals, toxic fumes, toxic waste, and even toxic slime hitting the headlines.

‘Not to mention the continued public condemnation of the toxicity of plastics.

‘And its not just the physical being touted as toxic this year.

‘Toxic has truly taken off into the realm of metaphor, people have reached for the word to describe workplaces, schools, cultures, relationships and stress.

‘Lending a personal angle to this year of toxicity.’

Oxford Dictionaries mentioned the #MeToo movement which has spot a ‘spotlight’ on toxic masculinity.

The video added: ‘While in politics more broadly the word has been applied to the rhetoric of policies, agendas and legacies of leaders and governments around the globe.

‘In 2018 toxic has become a potent descriptor for the years most talked about topics adding more and more strings to its poisonous bow.

‘It’s the sheer scope of its application that has made it the standout choice for the Oxford word of the year.’

The top ten words used alongside toxic were chemical, masculinity, substance, gas, environment, relationship, culture, waste, algae and air.

Last year’s word of the year was ‘youthquake’, defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.’