Oxford word of the year 2023 'Rizz' has MCU connection, courtesy Spider-Man!

'Rizz' went viral after Tom Holland used it in an interview

Spider-Man Spider-Man Tom Holland with Zendaya | Twitter

Over 30,000 language enthusiasts reportedly participated in the process to decide Oxford University Press's (OUP) word of the year 2023. In the final round, the fight was between “rizz” (style, charm or attractiveness or the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner) over “beige flag” (a character trait indicating that a partner or potential partner is boring).

In the end, OUP, the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, declared “rizz” as the winner. According to a report published by The Guardian, the other contenders in the fray along with "rizz" and  “beige flag” included:

  • “Swiftie” (an enthusiastic fan of Taylor Swift), “situationship” (an informal romantic or sexual relationship)
  • “Parasocial” (a relationship characterised by the one-sided, unreciprocated intimacy felt by a fan or follower for a well-known figure)
  • “Heat dome” (a persistent high-pressure weather system over a particular geographical area)
  • “De-influencing” (the practice of discouraging people from buying particular products or reducing their consumption more generally) and “prompt” (an instruction given to an artificial intelligence program).

Rizz: The origin

According to the OUP, “charisma” is where "Rizz" branched out of and can be used as a verb as well. To “rizz up” means to attract or seduce, the Oxford University Press reportedly said.

The MCU connection, courtesy Spider-Man's interview!

The word, however, has a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) connection. According to media reports, the word was first recorded in 2022 but went viral in June this year after it was used by British actor Tom Holland. The young actor is best known for being Peter Parker a.k.a Spider-Man in the MCU productions.

“I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz,” the 27-year-old Holland reportedly said during the media interaction.

This made the word an instant hit on social media, the OUP observed. Thus the Gen Z slang entered the mainstream lingo as a proper word. 'This is a story as old as language itself, but stories of linguistic evolution and expansion that used to take years can now take weeks or months," The Guardian quoted OUP as saying. 

In 2022, "goblin mode" was elected Oxford word of the year.Another slang term, it described "unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy" behaviour.

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