The great minds at Oxford Dictionaries have spoken: "vape" is the Word of the Year for 2014.
First added to OxfordDictionaries.com in August, vape originated as the shorthand version of vaporize or vapor. As a verb, it means "to inhale and exhale vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or a similar device." Devices, such as electronic cigarettes, may also be called vape.
Vape was chosen because it signified the growing popularity of e-cigarettes. As e-cigs became more commonplace, so did vaping, which is an associated noun for vape. In fact, compared to two years ago, the word vape is 30 times more likely to crop up in any conversation, with usage more than doubling in the last year.
According to Oxford Dictionaries' graphs, the use of the word was at its highest in April, around the time that the first "vape cafe" opened in the United Kingdom, and protests were being held in response to the ban on indoor vaping that New York City enforced. Also in April, debates about vaping were everywhere, with the BBC, The Washington Post, and The Telegraph, among others, participating.
"As vaping has gone mainstream and with growing public debate on the public dangers and the need for regulation, so the language usage of the word ‘vape' and related terms in 2014 has shown a marked increase," explained Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries.
While vape experienced the highest popularity this year, it wasn't exactly a new word, as it existed back in the 1980s even before e-cigarettes were actually made available.
Rob Stepney authored an article in New Society called "Why do People Smoke?" and used the word to refer to a noncombustible cigarette that looks like the real thing but instead delivers a metered nicotine vapor dose. Oxford Dictionaries' research, however, showed that vape (in the sense it is being used now) did not appear in mainstream sources until 2009.
The shortlist for Word of the Year includes: bae (a term of endearment for a romantic partner); budtender (someone who serves customers in a cannabis shop or dispensary); contactless (wireless technology used to make payments); indyref (shorthand for independence referendum; refers to the Scottish independence referendum in September); normcore (the trend of deliberately wearing unfashionable clothing as a fashion statement); and slacktivism (a portmanteau of slacker and activism; refers to actions performed online in support of a cause that require little effort or time).