Have you heard of Oxford Dictionaries' 2017 word of the year?

Emma Haslett
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Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: the youthquake in action (Source: Getty)

It is not unusual for dictionaries' words of the year to elicit a collective groan as critics bemoan the decision to jump on whatever linguistic bandwagon emerged in the last 12 months.

But outrage was replaced by bafflement this morning, after Oxford Dictionaires named its word of the year - and left the majority of people scratching their heads about what it actually means.

"Youthquake" has been named 2017's word of the year, after a 401 per cent increase in usage between 2016 and 2017, according to the publisher.

The term is defined as a "significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people".

Unusually, it wasn't invented this year: it was coined by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland in 1960s to describe how British youth culture was changing the world's fashion and music, according to Oxford Dictionaries. However, the publisher said thanks to the "so-called political awakening of the oft-maligned millennial generation", it decided to use it.

"Youthquake may not seem like the most obvious choice for Word of the Year, and it’s true that it’s yet to land firmly on American soil, but strong evidence in the UK calls it out as a word on the move," said Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries

We chose youthquake based on its evidence and linguistic interest. But most importantly for me, at a time when our language is reflecting our deepening unrest and exhausted nerves, it is a rare political word that sounds a hopeful note.

"Sometimes you pick a word as the word of the year because you recognise that it has arrived, but other times you pick one that is knocking at the door and you want to help usher it in. This past year calls for a word we can all rally behind."

Among the other shortlisted terms were "broflake", a man who is easily upset by progressive attitudes, and "gorpcore", a style of dress incorporating outdoor clothing.

City AM Have you heard of a youthquake?

Read more: Here's what we searched the internet for in 2017 according to Google

The full shortlist

Word Definition
1. Antifa n. A political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology
2. Broflake n. A man who is readily upset or offended by progressive attitudes that conflict with his more conventional or conservative views
3. Gorpcore n. A style of dress incorporating utilitarian clothing of a type worn for outdoor activities
4. Kompromat n. Compromising information collected for use in blackmailing, discrediting, or manipulating someone, typically for political purposes
5. Milkshake duck n. A person or thing that initially inspires delight on social media but is soon revealed to have a distasteful or repugnant past
6. Newsjacking n. The practice of taking advantage of current events or news stories in such a way as to promote or advertise one’s product or brand
7. Unicorn a. Denoting something, especially an item of food or drink, that is dyed in rainbow colours, decorated with glitter, etc.
8. White fragility n. Discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice

Read more: Fake news and Corbynmania: These are Collins Dictionary's words of the year

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