WORD OF THE YEAR 2022: WELTERED
Every year at Haggard Hawks, we crown our very own Word of the Year—a suitably obscure term, lifted from that year’s HH feed, which somehow sums up the preceding twelve months.
From a shortlist of five nominees, we always hand the final choice over to you in a public vote. Past winners have included the likes of fallaciloquence (untruthful speech) and ipsedixitism (the dogmatic assertion of something as truth), and following another understandably turbulent year, your 2022 Word of the Year is weltered—meaning ‘exhausted by constant turmoil’.
It seems that’s a feeling common to an awful lot of you, as in one of the biggest winning margins we’ve ever had, weltered took more than 50% of the final vote! Here’s a little more about it, the other finalists, and how the final voting shaped up.
“This book will delight logophiles everywhere, and create many new ones.”
WORD OF THE YEAR 2022: weltered 57%
(v., adj.) exhausted by constant turmoil
Last year, the HH Word of the Year was overmused, defined as ‘worn out from overthinking’. It was an apt choice given the turmoil of the early 2020s, but in 2022 that turmoil certainly didn’t abate. War, politics, economic worries, climate crises, strikes, protests, political upheaval, and a disastrous Twitter takeovers—it was all one thing after another. So we perhaps shouldn’t have been too surprised that this word topped your poll.
As a verb, to welter means either to toss and to turn, or else to be tossed and turned, subjected to upsets and misfortunes, and knocked, rolled, swayed, and agitated by constant motion and upheaval. Ultimately, anyone feeling weltered at the end of 2022 was feeling the effects of near constant upset, unrest, and turmoil.
1st RUNNER UP: grasshoppering 19%
(n.) frivolous time-wasting while failing to prepare for the future
Oxford Dictionaries named climate emergency as their Word of the Year back in 2019, but that concern came to a head in 2022 with climate protests grabbing headlines all around the world, and the COP27 conference in November.
The feeling that we may all have been fiddling while Rome is about to burn seems not to have gone unnoticed this year either, with grasshoppering—a word inspired by one of Aesop’s fables, used to describe frivolous time-wasting, while failing to adequately prepare for the future—coming in second in this year’s poll.
...AND THE REST
(adj.) desiring of change
Against a backdrop of cultural shifts and game-changing demonstrations all over the world, rather than looking back on 2022, some 13% of you look to have seen out the year with your eyes firmly and somewhat optimistically fixed on 2023. The word for that is novaturient—a long-forgotten adjective from the seventeenth century describing anyone who is longing for or desiring of change.
(n.) an inclination to worry
The 2020s haven’t exactly been an easy ride thus far, let’s be honest. But after a global pandemic, we all strode into 2022 thinking things must surely be looking up—only to find ourselves almost immediately faced with the threat of a third world war. For that reason, we added a perennial HH favourite to this year’s shortlist: kedophysis is a little known term from medicine and psychiatry, defined by one 1958 medical dictionary as a person’s “inclination or proneness to worry.”
(n.) a critically important period of time, with significant or far-reaching future implications
We’ve rounded things down to 5% here, but incredibly just three votes separated the bottom two words in this years poll, with climacter taking this year’s outside place.
Related to the likes of climax and climactic (and, in the sense of a major step in life, derived from the Greek word for the rung of a ladder), climacter has been used in English for an especially crucial period of time—and in particular, a single year—since the 1600s. And it’s fair to say 2022 proved a somewhat pivotal period in many ways, both good and bad.