The GardenDespatches from The Satyrs’ Forest

The Satyrs’ Forest’s 2023 word of the year

It’s that time of year again for the dictionaries of the world to come remind people that they still exist, and that there is absolutely, definitely a reason for anyone to ever pay for them instead of going on Wiktionary for free1, by proclaiming a singular lemma to be Word Of The Year™.

They’re not usually very good at it. Irritatingly often they plump for words that were around for hundreds of years before that year, slang terms that won’t be around in five years, let alone fifty, or terms with dubious status as words at all. That is why last year, as chief etymologist and steward of this noble wood, i picked my own — “special military operation”. In hindsight, i might have chosen something less dour, but that’s the way the biscuit breaks.

So then, how can you capture the essence of the year that was 2023 in a single word? It has been a year of political stagnation, social carrying-on-per-usual, but of technological upheaval. Merriam-Webster thought authentic summed it up best, as a counter to industry plants and GPT malaise… but i’m sorry, that’s bollocks and they know it. Not a word from 2023, been around for decades, go straight to gaol, do not pass go.

Oxford, on the other hand, had a rather different, more vernacular choice — one i am inclined to agree with. The word of the year for 2023 is:


noun. (colloquial) Effortless charisma, the sort that lets you win friends, influence people, and get the girls.

I’ll admit, it’s not quite a 2023 word. It first gained steam in late 2022, and was popularised by the streamer Kai Cenat all the way back in 2021 — but to hell with it! The first mention in my group chat is January of this year, and it has taken the youth by storm in such a way that it seems destined to stick around, even if only to call back to the twenties the way radical might the nineties or groovy the sixties.

It too captures Merriam-Webster’s reaction to the plastic sheen of modern technology. Your friends might have rizz. The people you follow online might have rizz. But ChatGPT? I’m sorry, Dave, but as a large language model, it is not possible for me to have rizz.

Merry rizzmas, everyone, and a happy new year — let’s hope 2024’s word is as undour as this one!

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