Whether you call yours a water vapor cigarette or an electronic cigarette, every user knows that they are “vaping” when they take in a nice hearty drag. The fact is the word “vape” has become so popular that we really don’t need to put quotation marks around it anymore (so can we put that practice to bed already?).
With the newfound legitimacy granted to the word vape, we shouldn't need to explain it to anyone for much longer. People are out there vaping and even those that have never picked up a water vapor cigarette know what it is to vape.
All of this and more has led to the word vape being named the by the Oxford Dictionaries as the 2014 word of the year. Vape beat out words such as bae, contactless and budtender (as in, the person who serves customers at a marijuana dispensary) to take the celebrated position.
Vaping Goes Viral
An important part of decision making has to do with the popularity of the word and its frequency of use, both of which vape scored highly on. As quoted from the Oxford Dictionaries announcement of the winner, “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.”
The reason people are using the words vape and vaping more is pretty simple – water vapor cigarettes or electronic cigarettes are incredibly popular and on the rise. The industry is selling billions of products worldwide every year, catering to immense demand. Therefore, it makes complete sense that there would be a build up of new vernacular to match what people are doing.
This is even more the case with e-cigs, which are one of those rare disruptive technologies that absolutely change the way we look at things.
For most people, chances are they already know someone who uses water vapor cigarettes or at least has tried them or talked about them. Now these words, and more to follow, will be able to really define parts of what is already a huge movement.
TIME interviewed Oxford’s dictionaries division president, Casper Grathwohl, about the selection of the word vape for this year. Grathwohl explained that “It’s hard to anticipate what’s going to capture the public imagination at any given moment.” He continued further, telling us that “Vape only really caught on a few years ago and now we’ve seen a dramatic rise.”
But what is amazing is just how quickly it did catch on, not just the words vape or vaping, but the movement as a whole. Again, these words becoming so popular is only a reflection of just how big electronic cigarettes have become, and in such a short amount of time. Products that have that kind of impact in such a short timeframe are incredibly rare. It also tells us how ready the public was to try a new alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, and when e-cigs came through it was like lightning in a bottle.
Interestingly enough, the word vape was actually suggested way back in 1983 when author Rob Stepney used the term to describe a potential product being talked about at the time. We’ll credit the Daily Mail for picking up that tidbit of information and sharing with the public, in yet another of the many articles out there about the word vape.
We remember when the word vape seemed odd and even downright silly. In the early days only hardcore e-cig users would even dare to use that term, and typically only with fellow vapers.
Now it is out there and actually normal, so normal that many e-cig fans are openly celebrating the win for the recognition of the word as a win for vaping.
It serves as a reminder of just how far we have come with the e-cigarette movement and how quickly things can change and create a new normal.
This word seems to be at the center of a lot of it. As Casper Grathwohl tells TIME, “Vape has been a lightning rod for a lot of discussion about the positions we want to take as a society.” That statement crystallizes things in some ways.
This e-cigarette movement is pushing boundaries and making people think about how they want society to look. For us, a world where vaping is seen in a positive light is what we strive for. One person at a time, we’ll get there, and words like vape and vaping show us just how far we have come already.