“NFT” Is The Word Of The Year and Heres Why!

The abbreviation of ‘non-fungible token’ tops a shortlist also including pingdemic, climate anxiety, and metaverse

A man looks at digital paintings by US artist Beeple at an NFT exhibition.
Meteoric rise … digital paintings by US artist Beeple at an NFT exhibition. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

In a year that has seen the musician Grimes sell a collection of digital artworks for almost $6m (£4.4m), and the original photo behind the 2005 Disaster Girl meme go for $473,000 (£354,000), Collins Dictionary has made NFT its word of the year.

The abbreviation of non-fungible token has seen a “meteoric” rise in usage over the last year, said Collins, up 11,000% in the last year. Any digital creation can become an NFT, with the term referring to a certificate of ownership, registered on a blockchain, or digital ledger of transactions. The most valuable NFT to date is a collage by digital artist Beeple, which sold for £50.3m at Christie’s in March.

Collins defines NFT as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible”

How Grimes announced her NFT art sale on Twitter last February.
How Grimes announced her NFT art sale on Twitter last February. Photograph: @Grimezsz/Twitter

“NFTs seem to be everywhere, from the arts sections to the financial pages and in galleries and auction houses and across social media platforms. Whether the NFT will have a lasting influence is yet to be determined, but its sudden presence in conversations around the world makes it very clearly our word of the year.”

NFT beat two other tech-based words on Collins’ shortlist of 10 words of the year: crypto, the short form of cryptocurrency, usage of which is up 468% year on year, according to Collins, and metaverse, a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. Describing a three-dimensional virtual world – such as that planned by Meta, Mark Zuckerberg’s rebranded Facebook company – metaverse’s usage has increased 12-fold since 2020.

Collins also noted a rise in the use of neopronoun, thanks to ongoing conversations over gender and the representation of trans and non-binary people; it defines the word as “a recently coined pronoun, especially one designed to avoid gender distinctions”.

Collins chose “lockdown” as its word of the year in 2020, and it’s not hard to see why.

Collins’ 2021 Top 10 words

NFT (ˌɛnɛfˈtiː) abbreviation for
1 non-fungible token: a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record the ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible.
noun
2 an asset whose ownership is recorded by means of a non-fungible token: the artist sold the work as an NFT

cheugy (ˈtʃuːɡɪ) adjective, slang
no longer regarded as cool or fashionable

climate anxiety (ˈklaɪmət æŋˈzaɪɪtɪ) noun
a state of distress caused by concern about climate change

crypto (ˈkrɪptəʊ) noun, informal
short for cryptocurrency: a decentralized digital medium of exchange which is created, regulated and exchanged using cryptography and (usually) open-source software, and typically used for online purchases

double-vaxxed (ˌdʌbəlˈvækst) adjective, informal
having received two vaccinations against a disease. Also: double-jabbed

hybrid working (ˌhaɪbrɪd ˈwɜːkɪŋ) noun
the practice of alternating between different working environments, such as from home and in an office

metaverse (ˈmɛtəˌvɜːs) noun
a proposed version of the internet that incorporates three-dimensional virtual environments

neopronoun (ˌniːəʊˈprəʊˌnaʊn) noun
a recently coined pronoun, especially one designed to avoid gender distinctions

pingdemic (ˌpɪŋˈdɛmɪk) noun, informal
the large-scale notification of members of the public by a contact-tracing app

Regencycore (ˈriːdʒənsɪˌkɔː) noun
a style of dress inspired by clothes worn in high society during the Regency period (1811–20). Also called: Regency chic

From these “Top 10” words of the year, it is clear to see a crypto trend. 3 of the 10 words are based around the crypto world, these being; “Metaverse”, “crypto” and of course, the word of the year “NFT”

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