close up of a young man speaks - words power - watch your words concept


by Adam Jacot de Boinod


neologism /nɪˈɒlədʒɪz(ə)m/
noun. plural noun: neologisms
a newly coined word or expression

Every year neologisms, the official word for newly-coined words, slip effortlessly into our language. Invariably, to stand the test of time, they need brevity, wit and invention rather than simply be what linguists call a profanity or a vulgarism. As a philologist, a lover of words, I list my favourite new words of 2022 from all over the English-speaking globe and come into general use typically from newspapers and social networks.


The best new words of 2022


We’ve had Brexit, then Covid and now, beginning this Carolean (relating to Charles III) age an unstable Government with:
Partygate the scandal of social gatherings in Downing Street during the pandemic in defiance of the public-health restrictions that prevailed at the time
permacrisis an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events
vibe shift a significant change in the prevailing atmosphere or culture

… and the resulting need to watch one’s money:

frugaller someone who tries very hard to avoid wasting food or other resources and spends as little money as possible
thriftifarian someone who is well off but pretends they have to spend less money and not buy certain things so that they appear to be in the same situation as most other people

Inevitably there are the usual advances in technology causing more bizarre forms of interaction:

screenome a very detailed record of someone’s activity on their smartphone or tablet
tappigraphy the study of how, how often and in what patterns someone taps the keys on their mobile phone
tattleware software that allows an employer to monitor the activity of someone who is working from home
fexting the act of fighting with someone by exchanging text messages rather than speaking on the phone or in person

Our hybrid lifestyles bring new forms of employment as seen in these new words of 2022:

dial artist someone who is paid to alter a watch by painting it, engraving it, etc. in a unique design
disco nanny someone who looks after a family’s children overnight during a holiday, while the parents go out to parties and nightclubs
silvfluencer a middle-aged or elderly person paid by companies to encourage people to buy items such as clothing and make-up by recommending them on social media
luxury detective someone who finds rare and very expensive handbags, watches, jewellery etc. for other people to buy

… and brand-new approaches to going about the working day:

quiet quitting the activity of doing the minimum amount of work needed to keep one’s job but with no enthusiasm or commitment
tang ping a trend where people reject the pressure to work long hours in a stressful job, and instead adopt a more relaxed lifestyle (from a Chinese term meaning ‘lie flat’)

… which is only a short step away from all kinds of recreational sport:

wallball a sport similar to squash in which players hit a ball against a wall using their hands rather than a racket
earthing a sport that combines running and swimming, in which the competitor dives off the end of the running track into the swimming pool
drone soccer a team game played between two teams of up to five people, in which each team tries to win by flying a drone into the other team’s goal

… and the joyful pursuits of travel:

ghost flight a commercial aeroplane that flies to its destination with very few or no passengers, because of a law that means the airline will otherwise lose the right to land at and take off from that airport
hometel a hotel that is designed to make guests feel as though they are living in a comfortable home
splooting the act of lying flat on the stomach with the legs stretched out (as a way of countering unusually high temperatures)

… or else the pleasures of domestic life

kniffiti knitted or sometimes crocheted items that are left in public places as decoration
hural wallpaper on one wall of a room that features one large photo or picture

… and the simple attraction of reading:

romantasy a type of book that is part romance and part fantasy cosy crime a type of crime fiction that is light-hearted and often humorous, set in a small community without featuring explicit violence stealth help a type of book that uses a story, or an account of someone’s experience, to inspire its readers to achieve goals and  overcome problems

… and all sorts of general indulgence:

wearapy the activity of wearing particular clothes as a form of therapy, with the clothes chosen to make the wearer feel happy or comforted spiritual bath a ritual that involves having a bath to encourage wellbeing, with oils, herbs, flowers, etc. added to the water and in a relaxing environment, for example with candles and soft music
spiritual bath a ritual that involves having a bath to encourage wellbeing, with oils, herbs, flowers, etc. added to the water and in a relaxing environment, for example with candles and soft music

And, of course, every year texting brings with it novel abbreviations:
HOGO an abbreviation for “hassle of going out”: a feeling that leaving the house in order to socialise is too difficult or not worth the trouble
FONO an abbreviation for “fear of normal”: a worried feeling about going back to your normal life and activities after the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic
FORO an abbreviation for “fear of running out”: a worried feeling that you may run out of a product or a supply of something.

What were YOUR favourite new words of 2022?

Craven&ValleyLife Spring 23

Adam Jacot de Boinod was a researcher for Stephen Fry’s BBC television series QI, which led to an interest in words. Adam is the author of The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World, published by Penguin Books.