Collins Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2021 is ‘NFT’—but what is it about?

Published November 26, 2021, 12:10 PM

by John Legaspi

Other terms that made its list are ‘double-vaxxed,’ ‘climate anxiety,’ and ‘metaverse’

While many would have predicted a word that relates to the pandemic or vaccine or salvation to banner this year, Collins Dictionary took a digital route and picked “NFT” as its Word of the Year 2021, which it announced last Nov. 24, 2021.

Photo from Collins Dictionary/Instagram

According to its experts, they chose NFT, short for “non-fungible token,” due to its “meteoric rise in usage,” up 11,000 percent in 2021. While the term is relatively new to many, NFT has been in the virtual stratosphere since 2014. But it was in March of this year it became on everyone’s mouth when crypto artist Mike Winkelmann, famously known as Beeple, sold an NFT or digital artwork at an auction at Christie’s for $69.3 million. The piece, dubbed “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS” is a collage of the artist’s work for the past 13 years, combining thousands of images in one digital portrait.

Collins Dictionary defines the term 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.”

“NFTs seem to be everywhere, from the arts sections to the financial pages and in galleries and auction houses and across social media platforms,” said Alex Beecroft, managing director of Collins Learning in a report by Associated Press. While being up online has proven to be beneficial in this pandemic time for industries spanning retail, food, art, among others, the lasting influence of the NFT in our post-pandemic world is yet to be determined.

Other words that made its list are “double-vaxxed” (a buzzword ensuring our safety this pandemic), “hybrid working” (describing merged WFH setup and office return), “pingdemic” (another tech-related word about the “epidemic of absences from work caused by ‘pings’ from apps that warned users if they’d been in close contact with an infected person”), “climate anxiety” (in light of this year’s COP26), “Neopronoun” (a novel way of referring to someone without using their name, using “xe”, “ze,” and “ve” instead of the conventional “he” and “she”), and “Regencycore” (a term coined from the “Bridgerton” fame).

Learn more about Collins Dictionary’s Words of the Year 2021 here.