Collins Dictionary names ‘NFT’ the word of the year

Collins Dictionary announced Wednesday that its Word of the Year is “NFT” — digital assets that exploded in popularity this year along with the rise of cryptocurrencies.

The term, which stands for the acronym for “non-fungible token,” has seen a “meteoric” rise in usage this year, up 11,000 percent from the prior year, Collins said. 

The dictionary announced that it landed on the word “NFT” for the annual honors because it reflects the “convergence of money and the internet” that has come to define this year for many.

“Whether the NFT will have a lasting influence is yet to be determined, but its sudden presence in conversations around the world makes it very clearly our Word of the Year,” the dictionary said.

Collins Dictionary defines the word NFT 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.”

“In other words, it’s a chunk of digital data that records who a piece of digital work belongs to,” Collins said.

NFT House of Fine Art (HOFA) Gallery in London
The term NFT saw an 11,000 percent rise in usage from the prior year.
Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An NFF display seen at the House of Fine Art (HOFA) Gallery in London.
An NFF display seen at the House of Fine Art (HOFA) Gallery in London.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The market for NFTs surged into the billions this year as celebrities and meme-makers rushed to cash in on the trend. Everyone from Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart to the child stars of YouTube hits like “Charlie Bit My Finger” have sold their own NFTs.

In March, a Beeple NFT famously sold at Christie’s for more than $69 million. 

The word had to beat out a number of other buzzwords to take home the title of 2021 Word of the Year.

“Double-vaxxed,” for example, made the short list as “the badge of honor worn by those who’ve had both doses of the jab,” as Collins put it.

Visitors experience an immersive art installation titled "Machine Hallucinations  Space: Metaverse" by Refik Anadol at the Digital Art Fair Asia showcasing digital and NFT art in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.
Visitors experience an immersive art installation titled “Machine Hallucinations Space: Metaverse” by Refik Anadol at the Digital Art Fair Asia showcasing digital and NFT art in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.
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Some NFT's have sold for millions of dollars.
Some NFT’s have sold for millions of dollars.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

“Hybrid working” and “pingdemic” — the term used to describe the onslaught of notifications that’s come about as a result of remote work — both also made the shortlist.

The term “cheugy, the delightfully expressive word that is used to cast aspersions on something that’s now regarded as clunky, out of date and embarrassing,” also made the list, Collins said.

Japanese tattoo artist Ichi Hatano drawing a "hannya" mask digital image, following an interview with AFP at his studio in Tokyo. - Hatano has now gone digital due to the pandemic, selling his designs as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), virtual objects that have taken the art world by storm
Japanese tattoo artist Ichi Hatano, who now sells his work as NFTs, draws a “hannya” mask digital image.
PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images