Oxford University Press (OUP) has officially recognized “rizz” as its 2023 “word of the year,” marking its significance in contemporary language. Defined colloquially as a term for style, charm, or attractiveness, particularly in the context of attracting a romantic or sexual partner, “rizz” is thought to have evolved from the word “charisma.”
This acknowledgment by OUP follows a year where the term “rizz” dominated online spaces, particularly among Generation Z, becoming a staple in internet slang. Its prominence was further cemented last week when Merriam-Webster, another language authority, named it as one of its words of the year, having added it to its dictionary in September.
OUP highlighted the word as a notable example of language evolution, showcasing how terms can emerge within specific communities before gaining broader societal traction. The choice of “rizz” underscores the influence of younger generations in shaping and defining the language landscape, particularly in digital spaces.
The term gained significant attention in June following a TikTok video by a creator commenting on youth football player Madden San Miguel, known as Baby Gronk, and his interaction with Louisiana State University gymnast Livvy Dunne. The video’s phrase, “Livvy rizzed him up,” helped skyrocket the term’s popularity on the platform, where “rizz” has amassed over 36 billion views and is often used in phrases like “rizz god” or “rizz king.”
Actor Tom Holland, known for his role in “Spider-Man,” also contributed to the term’s visibility when he humorously used it in a BuzzFeed interview, discussing his relationship with Zendaya and jokingly lamenting his lack of “rizz.”
In selecting the word of the year, OUP engaged the public through social media, offering a list of eight words for people to vote on in head-to-head matchups. “Rizz” emerged victorious over other contenders like “Swiftie,” “beige flag,” and “de-influencing.”
Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, noted the significance of the word of the year as a reflection of societal trends and sentiments. He remarked that the rising use of “rizz” and other internet-derived phrases is shaping language evolution and will continue to influence linguistic trends. Grathwohl drew parallels with last year’s word, “Goblin mode,” which captured public sentiment during the pandemic. With almost 400,000 voters last year and 93% selecting “goblin mode,” it’s clear that such terms resonate deeply with the public’s experiences and emotions.
As society returns to more frequent social interactions, the playful use of “rizz” in everyday conversation is expected to continue, underscoring its lasting impact on modern vernacular.