Do you smoke, or do you vape?

Fuzail Aamir Oct 10 2015

By the end of every year, Oxford Dictionary announces its “Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year” (WOTY) – a word or expression that had been significantly been used or had attracted a great deal of interest with in the past 12 months.

In 2013, the word of the year was ‘selfie’, followed by ‘vape’ in 2014. If you understand English and can’t recall the word selfie, feel blessed and if you can’t recall the word VAPE you still shouldn’t worry. The word announced as the Word of the Year 2014 by Oxford Dictionary has not been appreciated by many as the right choice.

Many of the followers of WOTY had complained of the low use of the word vape in everyday life and have questioned its significance, or how it had attracted the interest of mass users when the word itself was added to the dictionary in mid-2014 and relates to a niche.

Microsoft Office still does not detect the word ‘Vape’ – thus considers it spelling mistake though it has been 10 months since the announcement… and as 2015 is ending, Oxford dictionary must already be short-listing the six words for the WOTY 2015.

So what does the word vape mean?

It means,

  • To inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device
  • An electronic cigarette or similar device
  • An act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device

And in case you want to know more about the word, as you now know it had been the WOTY: it originated from the words ‘vapor’ or ‘vaporize’.

But, why was the word vape chosen from the shortlisted words and not any other word like ‘BAE’, which had attracted a greater deal of interest on Social media, Hip-Hop and Rap and was one of the six shortlisted words?

The Oxford Dictionary advocates its choice by writing on its website,

“As e-cigarettes (or e-cigs) have become much more common, so vape has grown significantly in popularity. You are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year.”

Well, this defense has originated further debates. The word had gained hype due to a campaign being run to allow indoor smoking of e-cigarettes or in short, to legalize ‘vaping’ – that too in UK alone.


The word was used extensively from February 2014 to August 2014 after which its use decreased rapidly – it had been in the headlines of British media earlier – but as soon as the news went off the use dropped.

One debate put forward by the Oxford Dictionary was how the word vape taking place of smoke signifies the importance of cultural advancement when focusing on tobacco over a period of time, on a long timeline, even before the Americas were discovered – what was smoke once is now vape.

Anyways, here are the words that came close, but didn’t quite make it as the Word of the Year 2014: bae, budtender, contactless, indyref, normcore and slacktivism. Let’s see what the Oxford Dictionary WOTY brings us for 2015.

Fuzail Aamir

Fuzail Aamir:

He is a reporter for HTV Web and a student at Ziauddin University.