December 14, 2022

The 2022 Word of the Year

by William Turner in News

Since 2020, Red Havas has named a global word of the year (WOTY). The selection of this word is informed by quantitative input (via a Havas Group employee survey) and qualitative input (from a mix of global communications pros and thought leaders across the industry). Ultimately, it’s identified by an internal team at the agency who considers all words received, not only numerically but thematically.

This year, when reviewing the submissions that poured in from every corner of the world, two categories of words stood out to us. One stream was around words related to flexibility fluidity adaptability, agility, comeback and change. The second was around our feelings, behaviors and attributes as people. The category with the most “votes” were resilient/resiliency, grit, enduring, tenacious and persevere/perseverance — all of which are aspects of resiliency.

Ultimately, we chose resilience as our 2022 Word of the Year.



In this month’s episode of our Red Sky Fuel for Thought podast, host Nancy Anderson, VP of social and content, speaks to fellow Redsters James Wright and Ellen Mallernee to discuss our 2022 Word of the Year and dig deeper into some of the other popular and interesting words, both from our survey and from around the world.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

    • Why we chose “resilience” as our 2022 Word of the Year
    • Other interesting words our survey yielded
    • Other 2022 words of the year from institutions around the globe




To kick off our conversation, James Wright, CEO of Red Havas Group and global chairman of the Havas PR Global Collective, talks through our rationale for selecting resilience as our 2022 word of the year.

“I think resilience encapsulates 2022 perfectly,” says James. “It’s a great word that has a lot of stretch for what’s happened to us all in this last year. I love its connection to resilience theory, which looks at how people are affected by things such as adversity, change, loss and risk and how they can adapt and become stronger as a result. So, it has some symmetry to last year’s word of the year, which was adapt.”

“It’s a beautiful word with a backbone,” adds Nancy. “Resilience is not a matter of getting knocked down by a difficult circumstance and then staggering blindly into the next challenge. Rather, it’s about gleaning wisdom from those difficult circumstances and getting back up with conviction and confidence.”

“Our word of the year really shows that we have been through the wringer, but we’re always going to keep trying,” says Ellen Mallernee, VP of content. “Language has the power to help us reframe difficult circumstances in positive ways, so each year we aim to choose a word that has some forward momentum to it. Resilience just feels right.”



Next, Ellen walks through some of the other words of the year chosen by institutions from around the world. Some of the ones she touches on include:

    • Gaslighting, chosen by Merriam Webster, which is the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage
    • Goblin mode, chosen by Oxford English Dictionary, defined as the idea of rejecting societal expectations put upon us in favor of doing whatever one wants to
    • Permacrisis chosen by Collins English Dictionary, which is a term used to describe the plethora of ongoing crises that nations across the globe are facing
    • Teal chosen by Australia National University, which is an adjective relating to an independent political candidate or politician who advocates for greater integrity in Parliament and more action on addressing harmful climate change
    • Smash chosen by DW, an English word popularized among German youth that roughly means to start something with someone, pick someone up, or have sex with someone
    • Homer chosen by Cambridge Dictionary, which was searched for nearly 75,000 times on the Cambridge Dictionary website during the first week of May when it was a Wordle answer, disgruntling many players whose winning streaks were ended by the unfamiliar American baseball term

Within our own survey, we also received some interesting submissions, including words like transmogrify (to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect) and quiet quitting (doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary).



Each of the panelists then walk through some of their personal WOTY submissions.

“Similarly to last year’s word, I chose adaptability, which is the quality of being able to adjust or adapt,” says James. “We now live in a constant state of adapting and adjusting the way we work, live, think and educate ourselves. We also must adapt our expectations for current issues, from equality and climate change to war and conflict; from navigating misinformation and disinformation to adapting our approach to business and politics. The art of adaption is a craft we’re all learning to master. The world needs a rethink, and we need to be open to modifying every part of our lives to help improve our communities and society.”

“It’s always tough to identify a word of the year because it requires introspection and retrospection and the ability to examine the collective experience,” says Ellen. “Ultimately, I chose metamorphosis as my word. We’ve all been through the gauntlet, and this was the year we got to decide how we wanted to emerge from a painful chapter.”

“Most people focused on the positive with their chosen words,” adds Nancy about our survey results. “I think that really ties back to our word of the year, as we’re forever resilient, always picking ourselves back up, treating hardships as a learning lesson, and marching forward.”



Closing out our discussion, our guests reflect on this year’s word and look ahead to what 2023 may bring, foreshadowing our annual Red Sky Predictions report that will be releasing in January.

“In 2023, I’m hoping for growth as a nation, as a human race, as a community and as an economy,” concludes James. “But I also think there’s a word we may or may not be talking about in a year’s time: Twitter.”

“I hope that next year, our word isn’t so much about having to cope,” adds Ellen, rounding out our discussion. “So, while I haven’t identified what my ideal word for 2023 would be, I just I hope for good things for all of us. We deserve a break.”

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