If you’ve spent time on the internet this year (and who hasn’t?), there’s no doubt you’d have come across the acronym NFT. The abbreviation, which stands for non-fungible token, has seen such as “meteoric” rise in usage that Collins Dictionary has made it its word of the year, of course.
In fact, “NFT” was used 11,000% more often this year, which isn’t all that surprising, considering that this new digital craze has fetched incredible prices in the real world.
According to Collins, an NFT is defined as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible.”
The dictionary’s lexicographers said they chose it as the Word of the Year as it encapsulated a “unique technicolor collision of art, technology, and commerce” that broke through “the COVID noise” to become a term most of us are familiar with.
“It’s unusual for an abbreviation to experience such a meteoric rise in usage, but the data we have from the Collins Corpus reflects the remarkable ascendancy of the NFT in 2021, said Alex Beecroft, Collins Learning Managing Director.
“NFTs seem to be everywhere, from the arts sections to the financial pages and in galleries and auction houses and across social media platforms. Whether the NFT will have a lasting influence is yet to be determined, but its sudden presence in conversations around the world makes it very clearly our word of the year,” he explained.
Some technology-adjacent words that “NFT” beat to clinch top spot included “crypto,” short for cryptocurrency; and ‘metaverse’, a term coined in the 1992 novel Snow Crash that has now come to mean a three-dimensional virtual world, as per The Guardian.
Other frontrunners were COVID-related phrases, such as “hybrid working” and “double-vaxxed.” Interestingly, the word “neopronoun” also saw a rise in usage, referring to a “recently coined pronoun, especially one designed to avoid gender distinctions.”
Here’s the list of the top 10 words of the year:
“A unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible.”
“No longer regarded as cool or fashionable.”
3. Climate anxiety
“A state of distress caused by concern about climate change.”
“A decentralised digital medium of exchange which is created, regulated and exchanged using cryptography and (usually) open-source software, and typically used for online purchases.”
“Having received two vaccinations against a disease.”
6. Hybrid working
“The practice of alternating between different working environments, such as from home and in an office.”
“A proposed version of the internet that incorporates three-dimensional virtual environments.”
“A recently coined pronoun, especially one designed to avoid gender distinctions.”
“The large-scale notification of members of the public by a contact-tracing app.”
“A style of dress inspired by clothes worn in high society during the Regency period (1811–20).”