If there's one thing true of a staid company like the Oxford University Press, it's that the 600-plus-year-old British company will give considerable thought to a new word before adding it to its dictionary. Except, when it shows off its sense of humor.
Each year, Oxford adds new words to its dictionaries. These words are a reflection of the English language and the ways new generations are adding to it. Like last year, among Oxford's new words and phrases were algorithmic trading, crony capitalism, Obamacare, SD card, and LOLcat, which people use as a caption to cat photos or videos.
This year, Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year isn't even a word. It's an emoji of a smiling face that's laughing with tears of joy. The emoji is so prevalent that people like Hillary Clinton and companies like Domino's Pizza use it.
Oxford has a rationale for choosing this emoji as its word of the year. The frequency of usage of the word emoji more than tripled from 2014 to 2015. (See chart next page.)
Oxford partnered with the company SwiftKey to figure out which emoji is used most often worldwide. That would be the tears-with-joy emoji, which accounted for 17% of emojis used this year in the United States, and 20% of all emojis used in the UK. (In photo above, bottom left-hand corner.)
What do you think of Oxford University Press' Word of the Year? Let us know in comments. (At least it didn't choose Apple's middle finger emoji.)