According to Oxford:
“This year, Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and ? was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that ? made up 20 percent of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17 percent of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4 percent and 9 percent respectively in 2014.”
Although the ? emoji won, there were other strong contenders from a range of fields as follows:
- ad blocker, noun: A piece of software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page.
- Brexit, noun: A term for the potential or hypothetical departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, from British + exit.
- Dark Web, noun: The part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.
- on fleek, adjectival phrase: Extremely good, attractive, or stylish.
- lumbersexual, noun: A young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress (typified by a beard and check shirt) suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle.
- refugee, noun: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
- sharing economy, noun: An economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet.
- they (singular), pronoun: Used to refer to a person of unspecified sex.
Yes, they seriously have the word “they” on the shortlist (but why???). Check out Word of the Year shortlist to find out more about the shortlist and why each word was chosen.