Oxford’s got ‘Rizz’: Slang named Oxford University Press’ word of 2023

On Monday, Oxford sent the world a message: It knows what “rizz” is.

The viral term was crowned 2023’s “word of the year” by the Oxford University Press, which it lists as a “colloquial noun, defined as ‘style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.’” It is believed to stem from the word “charisma.”

OUP’s decision comes after a year of rizz-related memes helped make it one of the most buzzy slang terms, particularly among Gen Zers. Last week, Merriam-Webster announced “rizz” as one of its 2023 words of the year after adding it to the dictionary in September.

“Our language experts chose rizz as an interesting example of how language can be formed, shaped, and shared within communities, before being picked up more widely in society,” the OUP said in a post about the word. “It speaks to how younger generations now have spaces, online or otherwise, to own and define the language they use.”

The word gained notoriety in June after a TikTok creator made a video with commentary about youth football player Baby Gronk, whose real name is Madden San Miguel, meeting with Louisiana State University gymnast Livvy Dunne.

“Livvy just convinced Baby Gronk to commit to LSU,” Henry De Tolla says in the video. “Livvy rizzed him up.” 

On TikTok, the word “rizz” has more than 36 billion views. It’s also frequently used in phrases like “rizz god” or “rizz king” to describe a person who is exceedingly charming or persuasive.

Some online, including the OUP, referenced actor Tom Holland when discussing the term. The “Spider-Man” star went viral after using the slang in an interview with BuzzFeed in June.

“I have no rizz whatsoever,” he said at the time, noting he played the “long game” with actor Zendaya, who is his girlfriend. “I have limited rizz.”

Just as it did last year, the OUP said it again enlisted the public’s help in choosing its word. Experts from OUP selected eight words total, and gave people on social media the opportunity to then narrow down the top contender via head-to-head matchups.

“Rizz” beat words like “Swiftie,” defined as “an enthusiastic fan of the singer Taylor Swift”; “beige flag,” defined as a trait that is “not distinctly good or bad”; and “de-influencing,” defined as “the practice of discouraging people from buying particular products.”

Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, said that the “word of the year” serves as a good litmus test for the situations and feelings society is living through.

“The spike in usage data for rizz goes to prove that words and phrases that evolve from internet culture are increasingly becoming part of day-to-day vernacular and will continue to shape language trends in the future,” Grathwohl said in the news release.

He pointed to last year’s winner, “Goblin mode,” as a marker of how people were feeling during the pandemic. OUP said almost 400,000 people voted last year, and 93% selected “goblin mode.”

Now, as people are once again able to socialize in large groups, they’re inevitably going to be rizzing one another up.

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