'Rizz' is crowned 2023's 'word of the year' after Tom Holland used it

Is this Oxford’s most Gen Z word of the year ever? ‘Rizz’ (which is internet slang for romantic appeal) is chosen by lexicographers – seeing off rivals to the top spot including ‘de-influencing’, ‘beige flag’ and ‘Swiftie’

Language dons have chosen ‘rizz’ as their Oxford 2023 word of the year – seeing off rivals ‘Swiftie’ and ‘de-influencing’ to the top spot.

The term, internet slang for ‘romantic appeal’ or charm, was crowned after a Tom Holland interview fuelled a boom in its use among younger people in Generation Z – defined as those born between the mid to late-1990s and early 2010s.

It beat seven other contenders to become the word of 2023, in a list narrowed down by a public vote before Oxford lexicographers decided the winner. 

Recorded uses of the word peaked in June when Spider-Man star Holland was asked about his ‘rizz’ in a widely shared interview.

The actor said: ‘I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz. My brother Paddy has ultimate rizz’ before then explaining he won over his girlfriend Zendaya by playing the ‘long game’.

The word gained popularity after being used by Spider-Man star Tom Holland in June 


The word is used massively online, with billions of views of the hashtag ‘rizz’ on TikTok.

According to the Oxford University Press, ‘rizz’ is defined as style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.

Linguistic experts believe it comes from a shortened version of the word charisma. 

It can also be used as a verb, in sayings such as ‘to rizz up’, which means to attract, seduce, or chat someone up.

What were the previous words of the year?  

2022 – Goblin mode: Defined as ‘a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations’.

2021 – Vax: Oxford Languages said vax had ‘injected itself into the bloodstream of the English language’ during the coronavirus pandemic, as Covid vaccines were rolled out globally.

2020 – For the first time, a decision was taken to not crown a single word as the year’s best, with 2020 being described as ‘a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single word’. Instead words like ‘unmute’ to ‘mail-in‘, ‘coronavirus‘ and ‘lockdown‘, were added. 

It’s essentially a newer version of ‘game’, defined as skill, prowess, and the ability to attract others sexually by using one’s charm.

Experts from Oxford University Press said the shortlist of eight words and phrases this year were chosen to most reflect the mood, ethos or preoccupations of 2023.

The other seven words in the shortlist, defined by Oxford language dons, are: 

Swiftie: An enthusiastic fan of the singer Taylor Swift

De-influencing: The practice of discouraging people from buying particular products, or of encouraging people to reduce their consumption of material goods, esp. via social media.

Beige flag: A character trait that indicates that a partner or potential partner is boring or lacks originality; (also) a trait or habit, esp. of a partner or potential partner, viewed as extremely characteristic, but not distinctly good or bad.

Heat dome: A persistent high-pressure weather system over a particular geographic area, which traps a mass of hot air below it.

Prompt: An instruction given to an artificial intelligence program, algorithm, etc., which determines or influences the content it generates.

Parasocial: Designating a relationship characterised by the one-sided, unreciprocated sense of intimacy felt by a viewer, fan, or follower for a well-known or prominent figure (typically a media celebrity), in which the follower or fan comes to feel (falsely) that they know the celebrity as a friend.

Situationship: A romantic or sexual relationship that is not considered to be formal or established.

Although rizz’s mainstream popularity is thought to have ballooned after Holland used the term, the word is widely credited with having been introduced by YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat, who uses it with his friends. 

Last year, the slang term ‘goblin mode’, which is defined as a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent or lazy, was chosen as Oxford’s 2022 word of the year.

In 2021 the Oxford word of the year was ‘vax’ and Merriam-Webster´s was ‘vaccine’ – a reflection of the ongoing Covid pandemic at the time. 

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