May I have a word about… what it means to be in goblin mode

<span>Photograph: Hilary Morgan/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Hilary Morgan/Alamy

Oxford University Press has announced its shortlist for word of the year. Its choices are #IStandWith, Metaverse and goblin mode. The first two I am familiar with, but the last... completely stumped. I’ve never seen it or heard it. Apparently, it is “a slang term for a way of behaving that intentionally and shamelessly gives into and indulges in base habits and activities without regard for adhering to social norms or expectations”. I think it used to be known as slobbishness.

Now another one for the “community” section of this column. It was announced last week that Instagram is to restore a drill video that was removed from the site after a request from the Metropolitan police.

The Met said clips of a video for the song Secrets Not Safe by Chinx (OS) could lead to “retaliatory violence”. And how did the BBC announcer deliver this news? “This decision will be welcomed by the drill community.”

Reader Steve Waller sent me the following: “On last Saturday’s Strictly, a contestant commented that it was so surreal they were going to dance in Blackpool, when in fact it couldn’t have been less surreal! It now seems to be the ‘go to’ word in virtually any scenario.” A good point well made.

And thanks to Penny Aldred for this: “I just downloaded a book from Audible and got a message saying ‘Your listen is in the library momentarily’. Hope I can get to it in time!” Oh dear, oh dear.

Brian Ramsden also has a bee in his bonnet: “Why do people (especially politicians) use the word ‘incredibly’ when they mean ‘very’? Usually it is in the context of working incredibly hard.

“Incredibly means ‘unbelievably’?The latest was Rishi Sunak: ‘I am confident that, when people see the set of decisions in the round when the chancellor has delivered his statement, they will see that we have strived incredibly hard to deliver fairness.’” I’m with you on this one, Mr Ramsden.


• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist