Perhaps no word was used more this year than “era” — so much so that Dictonary.com crowed the term its inaugural Vibe of 2023 on Monday (Dec. 18).

Vibe was one of Dictionary.com’s top lookups of the year, which led us to consider what word could best represent 2023’s overall culture vibe,” said Grant Barrett, head of lexicography at Dictionary.com. “Like vibe, the word era has been undergoing a similarly slangy evolution, referring to our moods, aesthetics, and life stages—and in 2023, we saw a real surge in this use of eras across popular culture.” 

Taylor Swift’s career-spanning, global Eras Tour trek — which will pick back up in the beginning of February with four dates at the Tokyo Dome and will end on Dec. 8, 2024 — might have something to do with the word’s popularity. “Our choice is also, of course, inspired by the year’s most high-profile, record-setting, impossible-to-ignore cultural phenomenon,” Barrett added.

The term, which originally grew in popularity via social media platforms like TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter), is formally defined as the “Periods of time in a person’s life characterized by something distinctive and noticeable, such as a particular emotional state, relationship, achievement, or interest.” Fans of the term, however, have used it in a both fun and casual way, often saying “I’m in my [blank] era” or referring to an artist’s album cycle as an era.

“Swift’s use of the word on the grandest of stages has helped to solidify it as a way of taking control of one’s own story,” Barrett wrote.

Starr Bowenbank
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