The term, which stands for the acronym for “non-fungible token,” has seen a “meteoric” rise in usage this year, up 11,000 percent from the prior year, Collins said.
“Whether the NFT will have a lasting influence is yet to be determined, but its sudden presence in conversations around the world makes it very clearly our Word of the Year,” the dictionary said.
Collins Dictionary defines the word NFT as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible.”
“In other words, it’s a chunk of digital data that records who a piece of digital work belongs to,” Collins said.
The market for NFTs surged into the billions this year as celebrities and meme-makers rushed to cash in on the trend. Everyone from Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart to the child stars of YouTube hits like “Charlie Bit My Finger” have sold their own NFTs.
In March, a Beeple NFT famously sold at Christie’s for more than $69 million.
The word had to beat out a number of other buzzwords to take home the title of 2021 Word of the Year.
“Double-vaxxed,” for example, made the short list as “the badge of honor worn by those who’ve had both doses of the jab,” as Collins put it.
“Hybrid working” and “pingdemic” — the term used to describe the onslaught of notifications that’s come about as a result of remote work — both also made the shortlist.
The term “cheugy, the delightfully expressive word that is used to cast aspersions on something that’s now regarded as clunky, out of date and embarrassing,” also made the list, Collins said.