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Word of the Year is VAPE - Oxford Dictionary

Posted by Sean on

As 2014 draws to a close, Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year is chosen and this year, 2014, the word is both a noun and a verb.


Although there is a shortlist of strong contenders, the word Vape has dominated.

What does vape mean?

So, what does vape mean? It started as an abbreviation of vapor or vaporize. However, the word vaping existed before the phenomenon. Although e-cigarettes weren’t commercially available until the 21st century, an article published in 1983 that appeared in the publication New Society entitled ‘Why do People Smoke?’ contains the first known use of the term. Rob Stepney, who authored the article, described what was then a hypothetical device:

“an inhaler or ‘non-combustible’ cigarette, looking much like the real thing, but…delivering a metered dose of nicotine vapour. (The new habit, if it catches on, would be known as vaping.)”

However, research shows that it wasn’t until 2009 that the word vape (and vaping) started being used in mainstream language.

The OxfordDictionaries.com definition was added in August 2014

The verb means to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. While both the device and the action can also be known as a vape

The associated noun vaping is also listed.

Vape is also the modifier for other nouns, creating new compound nouns which are growing in popularity. The most common of these are vape pen and vape shop, and there is also recent evidence for vape lounge, vape fluid, vape juice, and others. Related coinages include e-juice, carto, and vaporium – as well as the retronym tobacco cigarette for traditional cigarettes. (A retronym is a new term created from an existing word in order to distinguish the original word from a later development – for example, acoustic guitar developing after the advent of the electric guitar.)

Why was vape chosen?

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.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, usage of the word "vape" spiked in April 2014 when New York City banned indoor vaping and the UK opened its first vape cafe - The Vape Lab - in London, which made the term a clear winner for its Word of the Year title.