“Queen” has been chosen by young people as the Oxford children’s word of the year for 2022.
Almost half of children surveyed by Oxford University Press (OUP) chose “Queen” as their word of the year. In second place was “happy”, chosen by 36% of children, with “chaos” coming in third with 14% of the vote.
When asked why they chose the Queen, children cited sadness and loss as well as feelings of pride in relation to the late monarch, according to OUP. Girls were more likely to choose “Queen” as their No 1 word in comparison with boys; 52% of girls chose “Queen” against 39% of boys.
Analysis of the Oxford Children’s Corpus, the largest children’s English language database in the world, containing over half a billion words, revealed Queen Elizabeth was regularly in the Top 10 list of famous people whom children wrote about over the years.
Helen Freeman, director of Oxford Children’s Books, said: “It comes as no surprise that ‘Queen’ is children’s word of the year for 2022. This not only reflects Her Majesty’s 70 years of incredible service, but over the past decade our research consistently reveals how attuned children are to the news and the impact current affairs have on their language. It’s vital we continue to invest in language development and ensure children have access to a wide range of vocabulary in order to feel equipped to process and discuss the news.”
Miranda McKearney, founder of EmpathyLab, said the choice of “Queen” “highlights how affected children were by the emotions and sense of community and connection around the Jubilee and the Queen’s death”.
The research also asked children how they felt about the year ahead, with 48% saying they felt hopeful and 29% feeling excited. However, 14% said they felt worried.
Other findings revealed the top slang word of the year was “cool”, chosen by 40% of children, with “sick/sic” chosen by 28% and “slay” chosen by 15%.
In the previous years, to find the children’s word of the year, OUP analysed children’s writing submitted via the BBC 500 Words creative writing competition. However, this year it changed the methodology, instead asking 4,000 children aged six to 14 across the country for their suggested word of 2022.
Based on the most common responses and themes in their answers, “Queen”, “happy” and “chaos” were shortlisted and then put to a vote by a further 1,000 children to decide their overall word of 2022.
The overall 2022 Oxford word of the year was “goblin mode”, which refers to “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”. For the first time, it was decided on by a public vote (previously the final decision was made by OUP’s lexicographers).
In 2021 the children’s word of the year was “anxiety”. Previous words of the year include “coronavirus”, “plastic” and “#hashtag”.