What Is A Youthquake? Oxford Dictionaries' Word Of The Year Causes Confusion

'If I had a pound for every time I'd used the word youthquake, I'd be penniless.'

Oxford Dictionaries have named their often-controversial word of the year as “youthquake”, thanks to the General Election result and the reported increasing mobilisation of young voters - but even the youth aren’t exactly sure what it means.

The word is defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people”.

It saw a fivefold increase in usage between 2016 and 2017, prompting it to beat terms such as “broflake”, “newsjacking” and “milkshake duck” to the title.

Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, said: “Youthquake may not seem like the most obvious choice for Word of the Year, and it’s true that it’s yet to land firmly on American soil, but strong evidence in the UK calls it out as a word on the move.

“We chose youthquake based on its evidence and linguistic interest. But most importantly for me, at a time when our language is reflecting our deepening unrest and exhausted nerves, it is a rare political word that sounds a hopeful note.

“Sometimes you pick a word as the Word of the Year because you recognise that it has arrived, but other times you pick one that is knocking at the door and you want to help usher it in.

“This past year calls for a word we can all rally behind.”


Antifa - a political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology

Broflake - a man who is readily upset or offended by progressive attitudes that conflict with his more conventional or conservative views

Gorpcore - a style of dress incorporating utilitarian clothing of a type worn for outdoor activities

Kompromat - compromising information collected for use in blackmailing, discrediting, or manipulating someone, typically for political purposes

Milkshake Duck - a person or thing that initially inspires delight on social media but is soon revealed to have a distasteful or repugnant past

Newsjacking - the practice of taking advantage of current events or news stories in such a way as to promote or advertise one’s product or brand

Unicorn - denoting something, especially an item of food or drink, that is dyed in rainbow colours, decorated with glitter, etc.

White fragility - discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice

Past winners include post-truth in 2016, the 😂 emoji in 2015, vape in 2014 and selfie in 2013.

Despite being chosen as the winning word, it appears no one really seems to know what it means...

“Youthquake” was actually coined back in 1965, so to be fair, young people might be forgiven if they haven’t heard the word before.

Diana Vreeland, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, declared it the year of the “Youthquake”, writing: “The year’s in its youth, the youth in its year. … More dreamers. More doers. Here. Now. Youthquake 1965.”


What's Hot