List of neologisms 2023

Please note: I am not a lexicographer (i.e. I don’t work at a dictionary). For neologisms collected by people who actually know what they are doing, I point you to the excellent weekly New Words blog by Cambridge.

Words that first appeared in 2023

These are the neologisms featured in my newsletter that (as far as I can tell) did not exist before 2023. You can click on the word to see where I got it from.

Q1 = first quarter, in other words January, February or March

air mattress Ashley – a low-quality woman (hence the comparison to an air mattress) who offers herself up to married men on TikTok, saying that if his wife isn’t treating him right, he can come over. (in use since Q1 2023)

bare minimum Monday – a phenomenon where employees decide to do the bare minimum work required on Monday, often as a way to ease the anxiety that comes with the beginning of the week (in use since Q1 2023)

circumboob – based on sideboob and underboob, for the circumboob look, both sidebook and underboob need to be visible (in use since Q1 2023)

de-influencing – influencers on Tik-Tok giving critical reviews of products, telling consumers what not to buy. (In use since Q1 2023)

to glaze – The act of overly obsessing about someone else and constantly praising them (first entry in Urban Dictionary for this definition: Q1 2023)

goblin-timacy – (goblin + intimacy) showing yourself for who you really are from the first date, goblin-mode tendencies and all. (In use since Q1 2023)

Older neologisms that I discovered in late 2022/ 2023

This list is obviously subjective, as the title will tell you. I started collecting neologisms in October 2022

From March 2023 I always put a link in the word itself, and made a note from when I think the neologism came. When I started collecting them, I did not do this. For those words, I have tried to make a note of where I found the word for the ones that came to me when I just started doing this, so that there is something at least.

This list will grow with each newsletter that I publish.

🌽⭐ (corn emoji star emoji) – porn star, a way to get past content filters (in use since 2022, I think)

adorkable – dorky and adorable (added by MW in 2022)

AI influencer/ virtual influencer – an influencer who is not a real person, but an artificial intelligence. (I have, however, also seen the term used to refer to a human influencer who promotes AI)

boomerang employee – someone who goes back to work for a company they have already worked for in the past (observed by Cam Dec 2022)

bossware – a type of software that employers can use to monitor what their employees are doing on their computers (In use since 2022)

bussin – very good (first entry on Urban Dictionary: 2006)

Cap / no cap – a lie / not a lie (first entry Urban Dictionary: 2016)

centennial – someone who was born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s (observed by Cam Oct 2022)

demisexual – experiencing sexual or romantic attraction to another person only after having formed a deep emotional bond with them (added by Col 2022)

desk-bombing – the activity of suddenly going to talk to someone who is working at their desk, rather than phoning them or sending them an email, seen by some people as impolite (observed by Cam Dec 2022)

digital removalist – someone whose job is to remove any content from a person’s social media posts that may harm their reputation

doughnut city – a city where most people live in the outskirts and the city centre does not have many amenities such as shops, restaurants etc (in use in this meaning since 2021?)

drip – Clothing, shoes, accessories (I love the example from this teacher-centered website: Student: Love the drip today. Teacher: Thank you. I got it on sale at Target.)

dry texting – texting one-word answers to chatty messages (first entry Urban Dictionary: 2010)

dumbphone – mobile phone that is not a smartphone (added by MW 2022)

effective altruism – a movement and area of research that aims to work out the best way of helping other people and solving the world’s problems (observed by Cam Nov 2022)

energy-positive – An energy-positive building generates more energy than it uses (observed by Cam Dec 2022)

exposome – the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health (in use since 2008)

fafo – f*ck around and find out (the outcome is not necessarily positive)

flurona – infected by the flu and covid-19 at the same time

funcle – fun uncle

gagged – to be “gagged” is to be shocked, amazed, et cetera. (In use since 2017 according to urban dictionary)

gender non-conforming (GNC) – relating to a person or people who do not conform to the socially and culturally defined norms associated with a specific gender (added by Col 2022)

GOAT – greatest of all time

good time of day! – substitute for “good evening” or “good morning” when you don’t know what time it is for your global audience (seen on social media, can’t remember where!)

greenwash – make something appear more environmentally friendly than it really is (added by MW 2022)

hack – a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way (new for language blogger Dr. Metablog)

Hinjew – a person of Hindu and Jewish descent

hustle culture – the idea that work must be the the most important thing in your life and that working long hours and not taking time off is the only way to achieve success

imaginationship – a relationship that is only in one person’s head (first Urban Dictionary entry: 2008)

Indie sleaze – a fashion style that mixes grunge, vintage and hipster aesthetics (in use since 2021)

kizzy – I am not lying (first entry urban dictionary for this meaning: 2019)

laggy – as in a laggy video call (added by MW in 2022)

megadrought – a drought period spanning 20 years or more. (in use since 1996)

Mid — Insult meaning “low quality” or “average.” Derives from “mid-tier”— not awful, but not great. Example: “The new Bad Bunny track is mid.” (In use since 2020, popular since 2022, if Urban Dictionary is to be believed)

milestone anxiety – a condition in which someone feels frightened or very worried because they have not achieved the same things in life as other people of the same age (observed by Cam Oct 2022)

Mullet trip – adding a few days of leisure travel to a business trip “business in the front, party in the back” (Invented in 2022)

nepo baby – the child of an actor, a musician etc. who achieves success because of their famous parent (observed by Cam Oct 2022)

phubbing – snubbing someone by taking out and staring at your phone

phygital – a combination of physical and digital, e.g. for a marketing campaign or a retailer concept. When I first heard it last week I thought it was so ugly that it surely wouldn’t take off, but it has been around since about 2013 and is rising in popularity according to google N-gram

productivity theatre – a way someone behaves at work that makes them appear to be working very hard, even if this is not the case (observed by Cam Dec 2022)

Proximity bias – managers prefer work done in the office to that done by staff members at home (popular online since 2021)

Regenerative tourism – going on holiday to a particular destination and making a positive impact on the place and the people who live there (observed by Cam Dec 2022)

recommerce – the practice of buying and selling used goods online, usually on websites created for this purpose

rentvestor – someone who rents where they live and own property elsewhere as an investment

rizz – chaRISma, swagger. TikTok slang, funny article here.

to rizz someone up – to seduce someone

romantasy – part romance, part fantasy (observed by Cam Oct 2022)

She-cession – The pandemic’s harsh effect on women

situationship – a relationship between two people that is more than a friendship but not a fully committed romantic relationship (in use since about 2012)

shadow pandemic – the increase in violence towards women during the Covid-19 pandemic

shoppable – something is shoppable when it is extremely easy to buy an item being promoted, eg by adding a shopping cart to on online advertisement (in use since 1996, new surge since 2021)

Snatched – Fits well, looks good, and is flattering. (first entry urban dictionary in this meaning: 2011)

social omnivore – a person who never eats meat at home but sometimes eats it when in a restaurant or at someone else’s house (added to Urban dictionary in 2009, but boomed online in Q1 2023)

Sourfaux – bread that is labelled “sourdough” by the shop that sells it but actually contains cheaper ingredients and is made in a way that takes less time (observed by Cam Dec 2022)

sibling novel – a novel with the same characters as another, but not part of a series (observed by Cam Oct 2022)

stealth help – a story that is “self help” without the reader noticing (observed by Cam Oct 2022)

strawberry generation – used to describe the generation born from 1990s onwards who “bruise easily” like strawberries. A term originally from Taiwan, has been popular in Asia for a while, and is now perhaps moving to the rest of the world (my conclusion from a quick google, not from in-depth corpus research!)

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 (observed by Cam Nov 2022)

Trip stacking – the activity of booking more than one holiday for the same time period in case one has to be cancelled, for example because of new travel restrictions (observed by Cam Dec 2022)

up lit – genre of novels in which people are nice to each other (“lit” is literature, compare “chick lit”)

vivovore – an organism that eats viruses

warm bank – a place such as a library, museum or other public building where someone can go to get warm in the winter if they cannot afford to heat their home, run as a public service by a town council, charity etc. (observed by Cam Dec 2022)

wearapy – the activity of wearing particular clothes as a form of therapy, with the clothes chosen to make the wearer feel happy or comforted etc. (observed by Cam Oct 2022)

yeet – to throw with force (added by MW in 2022)

Zaddy — A well-dressed, attractive man of any age (In use since 2012, but this meaning seems to be newer)