Oxford, Collins Dictionaries Pick Vax, NFT as 2021 Words of the Year

Collins Dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary each picked its 2021 word of the year, with Collins choosing NFT and Oxford selecting vax, the Associated Press reported.

NFT is an abbreviation for non-fungible token. Collins defines it as "a digital certificate of ownership of a unique asset such as an artwork or a collectible."

The Oxford English Dictionary lexicographers chose vax because it was used 72 times more frequently than it was in 2020. It can be used as a noun or verb and is the root for many other commonly used phrases such as vax cards, getting vaxxed, and vax sites.

"No word better captures the atmosphere of the past year than vax," the Oxford report said.

According to the report, the word vaccine was first recorded in English in 1799. The derivatives of the word such as vaccinate and vaccination both first appeared in 1800.

Runners-up for this year's list included vaccinate and vaccinated, which were also used a lot more this past year than in previous years.

Previous Oxford words of the year have included climate emergency, toxic, youthquake and post-truth. In 2015, it choose the laughing emoji.

In addition to the 2021 word of the year, Collins released a list of new words of the year. The 10 are NFT, climate anxiety, double-vaxxed, metaverse, pingdemic, cheugy, crypto, hybrid working, neopronoun and regencycore.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Word of the Year, NFT, VAX,
Collins Dictionary has chosen NFT as its word of the year after surging interest in the digital tokens that can sell for millions of dollars brought it into the mainstream. NFT is short for non-fungible token. Collins defines it as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible." Above, an NFT is displayed on a billboard in Times Square, New York City, on November 4, 2021. Seth Wenig/AP Photo

Collins chose NFT after surging interest in the digital tokens that can sell for millions of dollars brought it into the mainstream.

Most people didn't know what an NFT was until this year, when sales boomed, sparked in large part by artist Beeple's March auction of a digital collage NFT for nearly $70 million. Other highlights include Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey selling an NFT of his first tweet for $2.9 million and electronic musician Grimes selling $6 million worth for her digital art.

Experts at Collins, based in Glasgow, Scotland, said Wednesday they chose NFT because of its "meteoric rise in usage," up 11,000 percent in 2021.

"NFTs seem to be everywhere, from the arts sections to the financial pages and in galleries and auction houses and across social media platforms," said Alex Beecroft, managing director of Collins Learning. But whether NFT will have a lasting influence is yet to be determined, he added.