VOA Special English
The World in Other Words in 2023


    Many people consider choices from dictionary publishers, including artificial intelligence, authentic or rizz, to be "words of the year." But the Associated Press reported on some words used in other parts of the world that have been gaining popularity.

    So today, we will look at other words from around the world for 2023.

    Password child in Australia

    FILE - Brazilian tourists hold hands standing in a circle in the Pueblo Encanto park in Capilla del Monte, Argentina, July 19, 2023. Known as the nones, they describe themselves as atheists or nothing in particular. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)
    FILE - Brazilian tourists hold hands standing in a circle in the Pueblo Encanto park in Capilla del Monte, Argentina, July 19, 2023. Known as the "nones," they describe themselves as atheists or "nothing in particular." (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

    In Australia, the local Macquarie Dictionary has been selecting a "word of the month" all year. One was "cozzie livs," a word that Australians use to complain about the high cost of living. Another was "murder noodle" for a snake in a country that is home to the world's most poisonous snake.

    But "password child" is a word that many parents can recognize. Australians use the term to describe children seen as favored over their brothers or sisters because their name is used in their parents' passwords.

    Kitawaramba in Kenya (Swahili)

    Paul Mackenzie, a cleric in the East African nation of Kenya, said the word "kitawaramba" on his way to court. He was accused of asking his followers to starve themselves in order to meet Jesus. More than 400 people died as a result.

    The unfamiliar word appeared to be a threat. Now Kenyans use it to warn others that something bad might happen to them for their actions.

    Bwa kale in Haiti (Creole)

    Criminal groups have brought violence, including killings and kidnappings, to the daily lives of people in Haiti, an island nation in the Caribbean Sea.

    Civilians have been fighting back and saying "bwa kale" as they chase suspected criminals. "Bwa Kale" means "peeled wood" in the Haitian Creole language.

    The term had long been used to express male dominance and power. Now it has spread overseas. A video on social media shows a group of Latino soccer fans saying "Bwa kale!" after their team beat an opponent.

    税 (zei) in Japan (Japanese)

    The top Buddhist leader at the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto wrote the word 税 (zei) in a closely watched yearly event.

    The Japanese public chose "zei," which means taxes, to best represent the year 2023. Many expect taxes to increase to pay for the country's military buildup. Under the latest national security plan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government aims to double Japan's yearly defense spending to about $69 billion. That would make the country the world's third largest military spender after the U.S. and China.

    The nones around the world

    In many countries, there has been a big increase in the number of people who select the word "none" when asked about their religion.

    The nonbelievers, atheists, or agnostics have become known as the "nones."

    The "nones" are believed to make up of 30 percent or more of the adult population in the United States and Canada, as well as several European countries. Japan, Israel and Uruguay are among other nations where large numbers of people are "nones."

    And that's the world in "other" words for 2023.

    I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

    Hai Do adapted this Associated Press report for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    complain –v. to express your unhappiness about a situation or something someone has done

    peel –v. to remove the skin or outer layer from a fruit or similar object

    dominance –n. the quality of being the most powerful or the leader of others

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