THE OXFORD English Dictionary has selected ‘vape’ as its word of 2014. There are quite a few people who may not have even heard of the word, but it is connected to the latest trend of smokers switching to e-cigarettes. The dictionary defines ‘vape’ as a verb meaning “to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device”. The word is a utilitarian noun introduced by new technology. “A gap emerged in the lexicon, as a word was needed to describe this activity, and distinguish it from ‘smoking’,” said the dictionary in a statement. “The word vape arose to fill this gap, and it has proliferated along with the habit.” As per a piece in The Atlantic, “The endurance of ‘vape’ may depend on the durability of e-cigarettes themselves”. Sales of the cylindrical nicotine machines doubled in 2013 to $1.7 billion, but showed a downward trend by the middle of 2014 as stories emerged that it may not be as ‘safe’ as was originally assumed. As per Oxford Dictionaries, the usage of ‘vape’ spiked in April 2014 when the UK opened its first vape cafe—The Vape Lab—in London. In June, CNET reported that with the rise in popularity of e-cigs, electronic pot smoking may not be too far behind, thanks to a Dutch company that claimed to have created the first legal e-joint. Choosing the word of the year is a task that begins almost as soon as the previous year’s word is announced (the 2013 winner was ‘selfie’). Oxford Dictionaries’ staff started collecting words that might come to prominence throughout the year. By August 2014, ‘vape’ had topped the list of words that were shortlisted, but didn’t eventually make the cut. The contenders were:
Bae: Used as a term of endearment for one’s romantic partner, most notably in the US. Its origins are in African-American English, and it has gained popularity through lyrics in hip-hop and R&B music.
Contactless: For those unfamiliar with the word, they may assume it describes being in a place with no mobile phone reception or Internet access. Actually, it refers to technologies that allow people with smartphones or other devices to make a payment wirelessly to an electronic reader, thereby ensuring there is no human contact.
Normcore: A word now popular with fashion critics, it refers to a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement mainly by celebrities.
Slacktivism: The word is a combination of slack and activism. It is defined as “actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause, but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, for example, signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website”.