'Goblin Mode' Is Oxford Dictionaries' 2022 Word Of The Year, And It Perfectly Represents The State Of Our Society

The 2022 word of the year, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is "goblin mode," a slang term that refers to the kind of lazy, slovenly behavior most people have been engaging in since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Gina Florio2 min read
lazy in bed

In 2021, the word of the year was "vax," which isn't surprising considering how much public conversation was had around the vaccine, its efficacy, and the potential mandating of it. But the Oxford Dictionaries' 2022 word of the year refers to something quite different: goblin mode. You've probably seen this term used in various situations on social media before, and sadly it's the perfect representation of the current state of our society.

"Goblin Mode" Is Oxford Dictionaries' 2022 Word of the Year

The official definition of goblin mode, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations." Someone who is adopting goblin mode is choosing to reject all societal expectations of adulthood and instead choosing to live a messy life in a hedonistic manner with zero regards for self-image and daily responsibilities.

Goblin mode became a trend on TikTok earlier this year and resulted in a strange rebranding of self-care. People intentionally abandoned hygiene and any care about physical appearance, donning their ugliest yet comfiest clothes and binge-watching all their favorite TV shows while scrolling through social media and eating the greasiest takeout food. "If you can’t handle me in goblin mode, you don’t deserve me at my slay" became the motto, and The Guardian even described it as "slobbing out and giving up."

The goblin mode state of mind is supposedly a response to the global pandemic that we have faced over the last two years, as well as the return to work that many people experienced in 2022 after a long period of time working remotely or hardly working at all.

The Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year is meant to reflect "the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past twelve months," which is why goblin mode was up against metaverse and the hashtag IStandWith. But in the end, goblin mode won, perfectly reflecting the embrace of laziness that has permeated our culture.

“Given the year we’ve just experienced, ‘goblin mode’ resonates with all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed at this point,” said Oxford Languages President Casper Grathwohl.

While it's understandable that so many of us have felt overwhelmed and perhaps even overstressed the last year, it's concerning that the collective response is a nationwide trend that glorifies sloth and encourages you to give up on everything meaningful or dutiful in your life. Everyone has days or evenings where they shirk responsibilities, dress in their raggedy sweatpants, order pizza, and enjoy Netflix. But to make an entire lifestyle or even identity out of goblin mode indicates that something is very wrong in our culture.

Being a perpetual slob negatively affects your mental and physical health, stops you from achieving your goals, and isolates you from loved ones. No good can come out of living out goblin mode for an extended period of time. But then again, mainstream society encourages us to self-destruct in the name of self-care all the time, so this is no surprise.