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The Oddly Greek Origin of Oxford’s Word of the Year 2023

Oxford’s Word of the Year 2023
A short term for the Greek word ‘charisma’ becomes Oxford’s Word of the Year 2023. Credit: Old Photo Profile / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

“Rizz” has been crowned the word of the year for 2023 by the Oxford English Dictionary. Outshining contenders like Swiftie, situationship, and de-influencing, “rizz” won the prestigious title.

The competition recognizes words or phrases that have popped up recently and capture the essence of a particular time. In announcing the champion, the Oxford University Press emphasized that these words should not only represent the present time but also have the potential to become enduring cultural markers or offer insights into our social history.

What does ‘rizz’ connect to Greek?

“Rizz” is a casual term that means style, charm, or attractiveness, especially in the context of being able to attract a romantic or sexual partner, according to the Oxford University Press.

Its roots trace back to the Greek word “charisma” (χάρισμα), which translates to “favor” or “gift.” The word “charisma” originates from the verb “charizesthai,” meaning “to favor,” and is derived from the noun “charis,” signifying “grace.”

Initially, in English, “charisma” was used in Christian settings to describe a gift or power given to an individual by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the Church—a meaning that is now quite rare. Nowadays, people use the term to talk about social grace rather than something bestowed on someone by the divine, according to Merriam-Webster.

“Rizz” spread from TikTok and other social platforms

The term “rizz” gained immense popularity on platforms like TikTok due to influencer Kai Cenat. Cenat, with over eight million followers on Twitch, started using the term during his livestreams during which he plays video games, engages with celebrities, pulls pranks on friends, and just hangs out.

What makes this interesting is that Cenat also discusses how to interact with women, and this is where “rizz” becomes relevant, according to

The 21-year-old, hailing from the Bronx, shared the origins of “rizz” during an interview on the No Jumper podcast. Cenat said that it all began with him and a few friends from back home. Providing what he called “the official definition,” Cenat explained a scenario in which a woman goes from being uninterested to intrigued.

To illustrate this, he said, “Oh yeah, I rizzed her up. I got mad rizz.”

“Rizz” got 32,000 public votes on social media to become Oxford’s Word of the Year 2023

Oxford language experts chose “rizz” from a list of eight words, considering their cultural and linguistic significance with input from over 32,000 votes from the public on social media and the Oxford Languages website.

“Rizz is a term that has boomed on social media,” stated Casper Grathwohl, President of Oxford Languages, in a news release. He highlighted how language, widely embraced in specific social communities, can sometimes transition into mainstream usage, even losing its initial appeal.

This word triumphed over other noteworthy contenders such as “prompt” (in the context of guiding an AI query) and “Swiftie” (referring to a Taylor Swift fan).

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