Rizz, a slang term for romantic appeal used by Generation Z, has been chosen as the Oxford word of 2023.
Defined as the ability to attract a sexual partner through style, charm, or attractiveness, the word is associated with younger generations and emerged through gaming and internet culture.
Oxford lexicographers said the word, which was made popular through social media, perhaps captured the “prevailing mood” of the year as people open themselves up following challenges posed by the pandemic.
Rizz, understood to derive from the word “charisma”, was initially listed on a eight-word shortlist selected by the Oxford University Press (OUP) as the best terms to reflect the mood, ethos or preoccupations of 2023.
Often used as a hashtag on video-sharing app TikTok, the word was pushed into the mainstream earlier this year when Spider-Man actor Tom Holland told Buzzfeed: “I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz.”
A public vote narrowed down the list to four finalists – rizz, Swiftie, prompt and situationship – before lexicographers made the final decision.
The OUP said rizz was an “interesting example” of how language can be formed, shaped and shared within communities before being used more widely.
“It speaks to how younger generations create spaces – online or in person – where they own and define the language they use. From activism to dating and wider culture, as Gen Z comes to have more impact on society, differences in perspectives and lifestyle play out in language, too,” said the OUP.
Previous Oxford words of the year include vax (2021), climate emergency (2019), and goblin mode, which was selected through a public vote for the first time in 2022.
Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, said: “It has been incredible to see the public once again enjoying being a part of the Word of the Year selection.
“Witnessing thousands of people debate and discuss language like this really highlights the power it has in helping us to understand who we are, and process what’s happening to the world around us.
“Given that last year ‘goblin mode’ resonated with so many of us after the pandemic, it’s interesting to see a contrasting word like ‘rizz’ come to the forefront, perhaps speaking to a prevailing mood of 2023, where more of us are opening ourselves up after a challenging few years and finding confidence in who we are.”
Kai Cenat, a US YouTuber and live streamer, is reported to have first used rizz in 2021 as a word he claimed was frequently used by his social circle.
In an interview with Complex, a US youth culture magazine, the 21-year-old said: “Okay so look, rizz came from me and my group of friends.
“Me and my friends used to always say it, and stuff like that. And I definitely [popularised] it on my stream.”