Oxford Dictionaries has declared “vape,” a verb meaning “to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device,” to be the 2014 word of the year.
The Oxford word of the year is usually some neologism that has become so widespread it can’t be ignored. Last year it was “selfie,” which I was familiar with even though I’ve never taken one and indeed don’t even own a cellphone or any other device that would enable me to take one.
This year, however, I pulled a complete blank. I can honestly say I’ve never heard or seen the word “vape” used before, and had no idea what it meant. What’s worse, I don’t even know what an electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is.
And it gets even worse! I’d never heard of any of the words on this year’s shortlist! Here they are:
bae n. used as a term of endearment for one’s romantic partner. [I pulled a complete blank on this one.]
budtender n. a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop. [I would have guessed this was something like a male friend who also worked a bartender. Sort of like a brotender? I would have been wrong.]
contactless adj. relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc. to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment. [This doesn’t seem like a wholly new word to me. I’m not familiar with the technology anyway.]
indyref, n. an abbreviation of ‘independence referendum’, in reference to the referendum on Scottish independence, held in Scotland on 18 September 2014, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ [I wouldn’t have thought of this. I would have guessed it had something to do with liking independent music on social media. Or something.]
normcore n. a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement. [Vanilla, hetero pornography?]
slacktivism, n., informal actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website; a blend of slacker and activism. [I would have come closest to getting this one right, because it’s pretty much what the name suggests. I don’t think it counts as a word though. It’s too cute.]
Obviously I’m way out of touch.