Are you in 'Goblin Mode' - Oxford's 2022 Word of the Year explained

In 2021, it was ‘vax’. In 2013, it was ‘selfie’. Oxford’s Word of the Year is the closest we can get to summing up an entire year of world events into a single word. It reflects the mood, essence, and social landscape of each year.

‘Goblin Mode’ is Oxford’s 2022 Word of the Year. Not sure what it means? Well, you could be in goblin mode yourself and you might not even know it. Let’s find out what it is.

What does Goblin Mode mean?

  • The official definition from Oxford reads, “Goblin Mode is a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”
  • It is commonly used in expressions such as “I am in goblin mode” or “to go goblin mode”.
Image courtesy of The New York Times (@nytimes) / Twitter
  • ‘Goblin mode’ started to spread after people around the world had a moment of collective epiphany.
  • As much as they missed life before the pandemic, they did not want to go back to it. They embraced the messy, indoor lifestyle of being in goblin mode.

Why is it the Oxford Word of the Year 2022?

For the first time ever, Oxford University Press opened the Word of the Year selection process to online public voting. ‘Goblin mode’ won the online poll by a massive margin, beating ‘Metaverse’ and #IStandWith with 93 percent of the total votes.

Graph courtesy of Oxford University Press
  • Throughout 2022, all three words gained huge popularity. They also reflect the constantly changing and confusing times that we live in.
  • ‘Goblin Mode’ in particular appeals to a significant majority of young people regardless of where they are from.
  • The surge in the popularity of this term is a great reminder that people have started to look at social norms differently after the pandemic.

Are you in Goblin mode? 

If one or more of these options applies to you, then you totally have switched on this mode!

  • You never seem to get out of bed. 
  • Piles of clothes lying around in your room.
  • You order takeout food and don’t throw away the boxes regularly. 
  • Your sheets have food crumbs and soda stains.
  • You binge-watch sitcoms and doom-scroll Instagram.
Image courtesy of denozy/iStockphoto

The origins of Goblin Mode

The slang phrase was first used in 2009 but it gathered momentum only this year after a fake headline surfaced claiming rapper Kanye West and actress/model Julia Fox broke up after she “went goblin mode.” 

Image courtesy of @JUNIPER/Twitter

  • The president of Oxford Languages claimed that “people are embracing their inner goblin”. As you may know, goblins are small and grotesque-looking mythical creatures.
  • Unlike the Word of the Year, most goblins do not lounge at home in their pajamas. In fact, it’s a surprise that goblins were picked over vampires for this term, who after all stay indoors throughout the day.
Image courtesy of Sony/Marvel

The new ‘goblin’ normal

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, social media was filled with influencers flexing their indoor skills like baking, embroidery, and making Dalgona coffee. 

  • Over time, the rest of the world started to rebel against these impossible aesthetic standards. People got tired of organic breakfasts and elaborate skincare routines.
  • They realized you don’t have to wake up early and exercise every day to prove you are ‘good enough’.
Image courtesy of G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock
  • So, there you go, Goblin mode is essentially the opposite of trying to improve yourself. 2022 has been a symbol of recovery and resilience.
  • As a result, people have truly embraced the ‘new normal’ way of life: the goblin mode. Are you going goblin mode this weekend?
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You can also share any questions you have about Goblin Mode. Until then, stay with us here at Spiel Times for more content.

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SOURCES: Oxford Word of the Year 2022 | Oxford Languages (, @JUNIPER/Twitter