The Oxford Dictionary's “Word of the Year” is not even a word, it’s an emoji.
Officially called the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji, it was chosen because it “best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015,” according to an Oxford Dictionaries blog post.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, “an emoji is a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication.”
The word is Japanese in origin combining the word “e” (picture) and “moji” (letter or character).
Oxford Dictionaries said it partnered with a mobile tech company, SwiftKey, to determine which emoji was used most around the world. In the U.S., the Face with Tears of Joy emoji accounted for 17 percent of all emoji use, up from 9 percent last year.
“Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens,” according to the blog post. “Instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers.”
And what of the word emoji? The company said it has been in use since 1997, but that its usage tripled in 2015.
Emojis went mainstream in 1999 when Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita issued a collection of 180 of them.
Other words that were in contention were “on fleek,” which means very good or stylish, "lumbersexual," a word used to describe a type of urban hipster who wears a checkered flannel shirt and beard.