Following Oxford Dictionary’s 2018 word of the year “toxic,” this year’s winner is also all about the struggle. Are we doing okay, world?
Dictionary.com’s verdict is in: 2019’s word of the year is “existential.” The word has become top of mind for many reasons, but Dictionary.com’s primary case study was “Toy Story 4’s” Forky.
Read more: 5 shows for your next existential breakdown
The utensil-turned-sentient-toy faced the question of existentialism when he struggled with his purpose in life. Was he supposed to stay a piece of trash-bound single-use plastic, or transform to become a child’s most precious possession?
“His dilemma actually speaks to a broader theme of threat and crisis reflected not only in culture and news, but also in our dictionary work throughout this year,” Dictionary.com says in a post. According to their data, searches for terms like “polar vortex,” “stochastic terrorism” and “exonerate” spiked the past year, in the midst of issues pertaining to climate change, gun violence and democratic institutions.
Dictionary.com’s announcement post ended on a hopeful note, though. The word “existential” isn’t about spiraling into a confused sense of purpose, but it’s about encouraging us to dig deep about our problems and enlighten us to use our agency.
Agency also relates to Dictionary.com’s runner up word “nonbinary.” If anything, last year was all about challenging the status quo.
Here’s to seeing those thoughts turn into positive and impactful actions this coming 2020.
Still from “Toy Story 4” (2019)