Defining Our Times: Discover the Word That Captured 2023's Cultural Essence

Written by Henrik Rothen

Dec.18 - 2023 3:13 PM CET

Lifestyle
Photo: Dagens.com
Photo: Dagens.com
Discover the Word That Captured 2023's Cultural Essence.

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In a move that transcends traditional linguistic boundaries, Dictionary.com has named 'Eras' as its inaugural 2023 Vibe of the Year, marking a significant shift in how we understand and categorize our collective experiences.

This choice reflects a deeper cultural trend where people are increasingly using specific terms to define and contextualize their personal and historical moments.

'Eras,' defined as "periods of time in a person's life characterized by something distinctive and noticeable, such as a particular emotional state, relationship, achievement, or interest," has been selected for its ability to encapsulate the perpetually shifting stages of our cultural and personal histories. This selection is not just about recognizing a word's popularity but understanding its impact on our collective consciousness.

Grant Barrett, head of lexicography at Dictionary.com, explains the rationale behind this choice: "Vibe was one of Dictionary.com's top lookups of the year, which led us to consider what word could best represent 2023's overall culture vibe. Like vibe, the word era has been undergoing a similarly slangy evolution, referring to our moods, aesthetics, and life stages—and in 2023, we saw a real surge in this use of eras across popular culture."

The term 'Eras' gained traction beyond its traditional historical context, particularly in the realm of popular culture. It was notably used to describe phases in personal lives, such as 'I'm in my single era' or 'I'm in my adulting era.' This linguistic evolution mirrors the way individuals are increasingly segmenting their lives into distinct phases, each with its unique characteristics and significance.

The concept of 'Eras' also resonated in the music industry, with Taylor Swift's record-shattering Eras Tour serving as a prime example. Swift's use of the term to describe different phases of her musical career exemplifies how 'Eras' can encapsulate distinct periods characterized by specific styles, themes, and emotional tones.

Dictionary.com's selection of 'Eras' aligns with the broader societal trend of using language to empower personal identity and narrative. It reflects a collective desire to categorize and make sense of different life stages and historical periods, especially in a rapidly changing world. This linguistic trend goes beyond mere vocabulary, delving into how language shapes our perception of time and experience.

The choice of 'Eras' as a 'Vibe of the Year' rather than a traditional 'Word of the Year' offers a fresh perspective on how we discuss and understand our times. It's a creative approach that acknowledges the fluidity and diversity of our experiences in a world where traditional boundaries are increasingly blurred.

As we move forward, the concept of 'Eras' invites us to reflect on how we define and understand our own lives and the world around us. It encourages us to think about the distinct phases we go through and how they contribute to our overall journey. In a world where change is the only constant, 'Eras' serves as a linguistic anchor, helping us navigate the complexities of our times with greater clarity and purpose.

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