Gaslit by Goblins – the dictionary definition

There is dissent among the lexicographers!

Whereas last year the Oxford English Dictionary (with the somewhat American-sounding diminutive ‘vax’) and Merriam-Webster (with the more formal, and somehow British sounding vaccine) concurred on word of the year, this time they have diverged.

For the M-W, this year’s word is ‘gaslighting’, a not-especially-new term used to describe a kind of cruel psychological manipulation. However, the OED put their favoured options (which included a phrase and a hashtag!) to a public vote, and came up with ‘goblin mode’.

What is ‘goblin mode’, you may ask? Some Tolkienesque monstrous tendency to murderous behaviour?

Goblin Mode?

No, apparently it is a term of online usage which is defined as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

In other words, the kind of behaviour one expects from people who consider hashtags to be words and eschew responsibility by putting their work out to a vote.

I feel like the OED has started gaslighting me. I’m team Merriam-Webster until the goblin mode ceases in Oxford.

Percy Bysshe Shelley contemplates the linguistic topography of Middle-Earth’s Third Age

Inscribed in Black Speech of Mordor, not Adûnaic

I weep for Adûnaic—it is dead!

Oh, weep for Adûnaic! Extinct tongue

of sunken Númenór! Of men who fled

their language and their home to live among

elves, ents and hobbits, dwarves and orcish dung.

Oh Adûnaic! speech of kingly fools!

Forgot among the songs of the Third Age,

Sindarin, Quenya, even Dwarf Khuzdul.

Such linguistic neglect bringeth me rage.

No Adûnaic now in Middle-Earth

abides in minds of ents or mine-dwellers,

nor elves nor hobbits. Such a shameful dearth!

This lost tongue of rangers and Gondor fellows.