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Every year, a few words sum up the biggest stories of the past 12 months; mark the arrival of an internet trend or sociological phenomenon; or simply pop up out of nowhere and become linguistically embedded. In 2014, for example, the word peak scaled new heights when it started to be applied to everything from oil to cupcakes.
This year Financial Times correspondents and editors made hundreds of suggestions. Close runners up to our list were Schengen, blockchain and mansplaining. Our final choices are below. And there’s not an emoji in sight.
Do share your thoughts and suggest your own words of the year in the comments.
● Refugee Noun — a person seeking refuge in a foreign country to escape from the threat of war or persecution; often accused of being an economic migrant
● Defeat device Noun — any gadget or piece of software used to switch off environmental controls and allow pollution to pump into the air
● Unicorn Noun — 1. A mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn; 2. (hist) A carriage drawn by three horses, two abreast and one leader. “She drove in her unicorn to Oakly-park” (Belinda by Maria Edgeworth, 1801); 3. A private technology company valued at more than $1bn
● Oxi Noun — “no” in Greek. In July’s referendum on the EU’s rescue offer, Greek voters overwhelmingly picked “oxi” over “nai” (yes) by a 61-39 margin
● Trans Adjective — relating to a person whose gender and birth sex are not always, or ever, equivalent. A broad term used by (among others) transgender and transsexual people to refer to themselves
● Isis Noun — a jihadi organisation that controls swaths of Iraq and Syria. Also known as Daesh, Isil or Islamic State.
● Gig economy Noun — the freelance economy, in which workers support themselves with a variety of part-time jobs that do not provide traditional benefits such as healthcare.
● Ghosting Verb — The act of abruptly cutting all contact with a person in whom you have had a romantic interest, without warning or explanation.
● Edstone Noun — A monument to political hubris. Named after the ill-fated carved limestone slab commissioned by former British Labour party leader Ed Miliband