When did having a ‘word of the year’ become a ‘thing?’

So it’s 2019. The Christmas holidays are over and it’s no longer acceptable to spend days in your onesie eating Quality Streets whilst circling which films you want to watch in the Radio Times. Tell me I’m not alone in this. Someone else must still circle the Radio Times like it’s 1988.
As I manage to get back to some kind of normality, and the Christmas tree and decorations are put back in the loft, it makes me starting thinking about resolutions. I’m not a fan and I don’t agree with, so I’ve been thinking about goals for 2019. But goals it seems is SO 2018. There is a new kid in town. Word of the year.
Since when did having a word of the year become a ‘thing’? I’ve seen it on Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter, where people announce what their word is. On Instagram alone there are 44.5k uses of the hashtag #Wordoftheyear. So I’m asking, when did this become a thing?
Of course word of the year has been used for a number of years now. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the 2018 word of the year was Toxic. Which is no surprise really. Yet it’s well researched – it hasn’t just been plucked out of the air. Oxford Dictionaries look at a number of factors when choosing their word of the year, including the number of searches for it in their online dictionary. Yet people aren’t talking about their most-used word of last year, but which word they are going to stand by, or will define them in 2019.
I’m confused. But it sounds like something from The Apprentice. And I don’t think I am the only one. On a call with a client today, I asked if they had a word of the year and it was met with a silence. They didn’t know what I was talking about let alone how it had become a ‘thing’.
Part of me thinks maybe I should have one. But how do you choose it? What does it mean? Will I have to get it tattooed somewhere as a daily reminder to keep me on track? So many questions, which I just don’t have time for. So I thought I would do what I always do when I need a sensible and logical answer. I asked my 9 year old daughter what her word of the year would be. Without batting an eyelid she replied ‘brave’. Which I love. So this year whether you have a word of the day or not, we should all be ‘brave’.