AI: what does Collins Dictionary’s word of the year 2023 mean - plus other terms nepo baby and deinfluencing

Collins Dictonary has chosen AI, the abbreviation of artificial intelligence, as their word of the year 2023 as they say it has been the 'focus' of the year
The abbreviation of artificial intelligence (AI) has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2023. Stock image by Adobe Photos.The abbreviation of artificial intelligence (AI) has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2023. Stock image by Adobe Photos.
The abbreviation of artificial intelligence (AI) has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2023. Stock image by Adobe Photos.

Language is a wonderful thing. New words are added to our lexicon on a regular basis to a reflect the ever-changing world around us. As a result of this, every year the creator of the dictionary, Collins, announces a new word of the year. The word is chosen specifically to reflect what has been happening during the previous 12 months.

The lexicographers at Collins Dictionary take this job very seriously and monitor their 18-billion-word database to create the annual list of new and notable words. They ensure the list reflects our ever-evolving language and the preoccupations of those who use it.

One main word of the year is chosen, along with nine other key words of the year which are also noted for their significance. Last year they chose permacrisis, defined as “an extended period of instability and insecurity”, as word of the year. But, what are the 2023 Collins dictionary words of the year and what do they mean? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the 2023 Collins dictionary word of the year?

The abbreviation of artificial intelligence (AI) has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2023. The dictionary said AI, which it said means the “modelling of human mental functions by computer programs”, has become the dominant conversation of 2023.

Text generator ChatGPT was launched in November 2022 and there has been much debate about the use of the technology. Lexicographers at Collins Dictionary put AI at the top of the list after looking at media sources, including social content, because the term has “accelerated at such a fast pace”.

The abbreviation of artificial intelligence (AI) has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2023. Stock image by Adobe Photos.The abbreviation of artificial intelligence (AI) has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2023. Stock image by Adobe Photos.
The abbreviation of artificial intelligence (AI) has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2023. Stock image by Adobe Photos.

What are the other 2023 Collins dictionary words of the year?

Other words on Collins list include “nepo baby”, which has become a popular phrase to describe the children of celebrities who have succeeded in industries similar to those of their parents, and “debanking” or depriving people of banking facilities

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage hit the headlines when he said his Coutts account had been shut down by NatWest Group because his political beliefs did not align with the bank. A report by law firm Travers Smith showed “serious failings” in the bank’s treatment of him but also said Mr Farage’s accounts being unprofitable was the principle reason for the decision.

Oscar-winning actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, and singer Noel Gallagher, the father of model Anais Gallagher, have both spoken about the nepo baby debate. Gallagher told Radio X it is “human to help your children” while Curtis said after accepting a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for her role in Everything Everywhere All At Once that people may “think, well, nepo baby”, but this is “amazing personally".

Also on the list of key words is “ultraprocessed” or “ultra-processed” food and “semaglutide”, a medication used to control appetite. Sold under the brand names Wegovy, Ozempic and Rybelsus, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to the drug in his first Daily Mail column in June, and it even started a TIkTok trend.

Social media terms such as “deinfluencing” or “de-influencing”, meaning to “warn followers to avoid certain commercial products” and the TikTok trend of calling character forming experiences “canon events” are also on the Collins list. “Greedflation”, meaning companies pushing up the cost of goods to make a profit, and “Ulez”, or the ultra-low emission zone in London, were also mentioned.

This summer’s Ashes series between England and Australia had many people talking about a style of cricket dubbed “Bazball”, according to Collins. The term refers to New Zealand cricketer and coach Brendon McCullum, known as Baz, who has a philosophy of relaxed minds, aggressive tactics and positive vibes.

What has Collins said about the words of the year?

Speaking about the 2023 Word of the Year, Alex Beecroft, managing director of Collins, said: “We know that AI has been a big focus this year in the way that it has developed and has quickly become as ubiquitous and embedded in our lives as email, streaming or any other once futuristic, now everyday technology. Use of the word as monitored through our Collins Corpus is always interesting and there was no question that this has also been the talking point of 2023.”

Addressing the other words of the year, he went on: “The cost-of-living crisis is also inescapable, with words like greedflation rising sharply, shining a spotlight on corporates. Other words in the list have also provoked interesting conversations, particularly around people’s health, with ultra-processed coming into the attention of the media and semaglutide also making headlines.”

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