“Toxic” Is The New Black…..

“Toxic” is The Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year for 2018.

And well may you ask, what exactly is the Word of the Year?

Well, each year the Oxford Dictionary awards the title “Word of the Year” to a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that previous year. The word also has a lasting potential to carry on as a term of cultural significance.

And in 2018, the word “toxic” was their standout choice for Word of the Year.

Now, the Word of the Year is not a title or term exclusive to Oxford Dictionaries. There are other dictionaries who also award their own “Word of the Year” gongs.

The adjective “toxic” is defined as ‘poisonous’ and first appeared in the English language in the mid-seventeenth century. 

According to the people at Oxford Dictionaries, in 2018, the word “toxic” became “an intoxicating descriptor” for the many of the year’s most talked about topics and subjects. 

They said it was the “sheer scope of its application” that made “toxic” their stand-out choice for Word of the Year.

In fact, their data showed that, along with a forty five percent increase in the number of times it was looked up online on www.oxforddictionaries.com, over the previous year the word toxic has certainly been used, and maybe over-used, in a multitude of contexts, both literally and metaphorically speaking.

According to the research done by Oxford Dictionaries, the top 10 words habitually used alongside “toxic” in 2018 were:

  1. Chemical
  2. Masculinity
  3. Substance
  4. Gas
  5. Environment
  6. Relationship
  7. Culture
  8. Waste
  9. Algae
  10. Air

Although most of these applications are understandable in the literal sense, the rise in popularity and the misuse or abuse or over-use of the term “toxic masculinity” does leave a lot to be desired.

Would the world ever consider the term “toxic femininity” to be an actual term?

Maybe the creation and use and over-use of the term “toxic masculinity” is in itself a form of “toxic abuse” and unnecessary “toxic harassment” and application, or over-application?

In terms of appropriateness, the pairing of “toxic” with “environment” and with the word “relationship” now are commonplace in describing terminal situations that people now find themselves in.

The term “toxic environment” has been more frequently used in 2018 in reference to harmful workplace environments and the toll they are taking on the mental health of those caught up in these workplace situations. From overly demanding workloads to outright bullying and abuse and harassment both of employees and of customers, many companies have been exposed in 2018 for their “toxic culture”. 

Even the Speaker of the House of Commons was accused of misusing his official powers to cover up allegations of bullying in Westminster.

Heaven help us if this sort of culture were to be conveyed by organisations who we trust and love, like our banks and our health insurers.

The people at Oxford Dictionaries also point out that “toxic relationships” are not exclusive to the workplace.

Apparently, the word ‘relationship’ was the sixth most-seen “toxic” topic in 2018.

And apart from the traditional “partner” relationships, I’d even go so far as to suggest that the word “toxic” is now becoming over-used in describing any “associations”, including many so-called “friendships”.

To me, if an association is starting to feel “toxic”, it’s time to end that association and move on.

Life is too short to be bothering yourself with “toxic”.

Toxic people.
Toxic work places.
Toxic friends.
Toxic associations.

End them and move right along.

There’s a better world waiting for you just around the corner.

Make it your goal to make “toxic” your UN-WORD for 2019.


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