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The 'Word of the Year' Isn't a Word

But it does mean something very expressive
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2015 6:20 PM CST

(Newser) – At least it's not an ancient Egyptian pictogram. While this year's Oxford Dictionaries word of the year is not an actual word, it is a popular image: the "face with tears of joy" emoji, Newsweek reports. "You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st century communication," says Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries. "It’s not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps—it’s flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully." Oxford chose this particular emoji by working with SwiftKey, maker of the popular keyboard app, and learning that "face with tears of joy" is the world's most popular emoji. Among the shortlisted 2015 words:

  • ad blocker (noun): the software the stops ads from popping up on websites.
  • Dark Web (noun): that corner of the Internet where website operators and users can go untraced and unidentified.
  • lumbersexual (noun): a youthful urban male who creates a rugged, outdoorsey appearance, usually with checkered shirt and beard.
  • they (singular pronoun): used when mentioning a person who may be male or female.

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While the "face with tears of joy" emoji took first place, neither it nor any other emoji will be going into Oxford's databases anytime soon, Time reports. (Check out Oxford's word of the year from last year and the year before.)

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