NFT, the abbreviation for “non-fungible token”, which designates a certificate of authenticity associated with a virtual object, has been designated by the Collins English Dictionary as the word of the year 2021, from a shortlist that included terms such as “pingdemic”, “climate strike” and others, informs The Guardian.
The abbreviation “NFT” registered a huge increase in use last year, the authors of the Collins dictionary said, being used by up to 11,000% more in the last year. Any digital creation can become an NFT, the term referring to a certificate of ownership registered in a blockchain or in a digital transaction register. The most valuable NFT to date is a collage by digital artist Beeple, which sold for £50.3 million at Christie’s in March. This year, artist Grimes sold a collection of nearly $6 million worth of digital artwork, and the original photo that created the 2005 “Disaster Girl” viral image sold for $473,000.
The Collins Dictionary defines NFT as a “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record the ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible.“ Collins dictionary lexicographers, who monitored the 4.5 billion words in the Collins word database, said they chose “NFT” because it represents a “unique technicolor collision of art, technology, and commerce” that has “broken through the Covid noise”.
“It’s unusual for an abbreviation to experience such a meteoric rise in usage, but the data we have from the Collins Corpus reflects the remarkable ascendancy of the NFT in 2021,” said Collins Learning managing director Alex Beecroft. “NFTs seem to be everywhere, from the arts sections to the financial pages and in galleries and auction houses and across social media platforms. 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 clear our word of the year.”
Last month, the Oxford Dictionary of English designated the word “vax” the word of the year, saying that in September the use of the term increased more than 72 times compared to last year.
NFT has overtaken other words in the world of technology on Collins’ shortlist: “crypto”, the abbreviation for cryptocurrency, a term whose use has increased by 468% over the previous year, according to Collins, and “metaverse”, a term that Neal Stephenson came out within his 1992 novel “Snow Crash.”
Among the words and phrases chosen by Collins on the shortlist are: “pingdemic”, “hybrid working”, “double-vaxxed”, “climate anxiety”, reflecting the growing fears about global warming.
Collins also noted an increase in the use of neo-pronouns as a result of an ongoing debate on gender and the representation of trans and non-binary people; according to the British dictionary, this term refers to “a recently coined pronoun, especially one designed to avoid gender distinctions”.
In 2020, Collins chose “lockdown” as the word of the year, and in 2019, “climate strike”.
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