Children’s Word of the Year 2022: why Queen received most votes, what other words are on list - past winners

Almost half of the children surveyed chose the word Queen as the top word that stood out to them last year

The word Queen has been voted the Children’s Word of the Year for 2022, after the death of the UK’s longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

Every year, The Oxford University Press (OUP) compiles a list of words of the year, as decided by young children and teenagers.

The press, which is the largest university press in the world, said the findings highlight that the news has an impact on children and proves that they absorb the language around current events.

So, just who decided on the Children’s Word of the Year, why was Queen chosen as the most important one and what other words or on the list? Here’s what you need to know.

How is Children’s Word of the Year decided?

More than 4,000 children aged between six and 14 were asked for words they felt had been important during 2022 and, based on the top themes, three words – Queen, happy and chaos – were shortlisted.

A separate poll, of a further 1,000 children by Opinium, was carried out to determine the Word of the Year 2022 from the shortlist of three. The research from Oxford University Press (OUP) suggests that nearly half (46%) of those children chose Queen as their number one word. This was followed by two more words; happy (36%) and chaos (14%).

The word Queen has been voted the Children’s Word of the Year for 2022.The word Queen has been voted the Children’s Word of the Year for 2022.
The word Queen has been voted the Children’s Word of the Year for 2022.

Why was Queen chosen as Children’s Word of the Year 2022?

When asked why they chose the word Queen, many children cited sadness and loss as well as feelings of pride in relation to the late monarch. The Queen featured prominently in children’s lives over the past year, with last February marking 70 years since her accession to the throne. This was followed by Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June, and the country mourning her death at the age of 96 in September.

Many children across the UK will have taken part in Jubilee celebrations last year, and experienced the death of a monarch for the first time. While more than half (52%) of girls questioned chose the word Queen, this was lower for boys at 39%.

Helen Freeman, director of Oxford Children’s Books, said: “It comes as no surprise that Queen is Children’s Word of the Year for 2022. This not only reflects her majesty’s 70 years of incredible service, but over the past decade our research consistently reveals how attuned children are to the news and the impact current affairs have on their language.

“It’s vital we continue to invest in language development and ensure children have access to a wide range of vocabulary in order to feel equipped to process and discuss the news.”

What were previous Children’s Words of the Year?

Lexicographers, experts and academic researchers in the children’s language department at the OUP have been analysing the evolution of children’s language and self-expression for over a decade now.

Last year’s Children’s Word of the Year was anxiety, and in 2020 it was coronavirus. The OUP also included a shortlist of three colloquial words – cool, sick/sic and slay – in its survey of 1,000 children. Two in five (40%) chose cool to be their top slang word, ahead of sick/sic (28%) and slay (15%).