Oxford Dictionaries names youthquake word of the year amid political unrest

A climate of deepening political unrest has led to "youthquake" being named Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year.

The term, which is defined as "a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people", follows previous winners - omnishambles, post-truth and selfie.

Despite seeing increased usage in the past year, the word was actually coined 50 years ago by former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.

She used it to describe how fashion and music was being transformed by youth culture but its modern use has been seen in a more political context - partly due to the General Election and reported surge of young voters.

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Oxford Dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl said: "Youthquake may not seem like the most obvious choice for word of the year, and it's true that it's yet to land firmly on American soil, but strong evidence in the UK calls it out as a word on the move.

"We chose youthquake based on its evidence and linguistic interest. But most importantly for me, at a time when our language is reflecting our deepening unrest and exhausted nerves, it is a rare political word that sounds a hopeful note.

"Sometimes you pick a word as the word of the year because you recognise that it has arrived, but other times you pick one that is knocking at the door and you want to help usher it in.

"This past year calls for a word we can all rally behind."

Also shortlisted for the accolade was the word broflake - a man who is upset or offended by attitudes that conflict with his more conservative stance - and newsjacking - the taking advantage of current affairs to promote a brand.

White fragility - the "discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice" also made the shortlist.

And so did the term milkshake duck, which is defined as "person or thing that initially inspires delight on social media but is soon revealed to have a distasteful or repugnant past".

Oxford Dictionaries consultant Susie Dent said: "There's not a lot of sunshine in the standout words this year.

"Words like antifa and kompromat speak to fractured times of mistrust and frustration.

"In youthquake we find some hope in the power to change things, and had a little bit of linguistic fun along the way. It feels like the right note on which to end a difficult and divisive year."

Notable words which have previously won the accolade include chav in 2004, sudoku in 2005 and simples in 2009.

The face with tears of joy emoji took the prize in 2015.

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