Words to watch in 2023

Which words and phrases will enter wider circulation in 2023? This year’s edition of The Economist magazine’s annual publication The World in 2023 discusses, among many other interesting topics, the magazine’s ‘best 23 guesses’ for the terms that will become part of public discourse this year.

I list the 23 terms below, with brief definitions, based on a longer discussion in the article itself. For more information, please look at the original 6-page article. The whole publication has 146 pages.

1. Green, brown and blue hydrogen

Green hydrogen is made from water by electrolysis using renewable energy. Making blue hydrogen involves burning the fossil fuel lignite (‘brown coal’). And blue hydrogen is made from natural gas, releasing carbon dioxide that is then captured and stored underground.

The article also discusses ‘black’, ‘grey’, ‘turquoise’, ‘pink’ and ‘white’ hydrogen.

2. eSIM

A digital code containing information of the kind stored today in mobile phones and other devices on SIM cards.

3. Post-quantum cryptography

New forms of encryption that may be needed if quantum computers enter use.

4. Mixed reality

A mixture of the real world and virtual reality. An example might be playing table tennis with real bats but with a ball generated by computer.

5. Passkeys

Biometrically validated tokens generated automatically, to replace passwords.

6. Horizontal and vertical escalation

Escalation is horizontal if a conflict spreads into a wider area. Escalation is vertical if a conflict intensifies—for example by attacks on new types of targets or with deadlier weapons.

7. Tactical nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons with shorter ranges and lower destructive power than strategic nuclear weapons.

8. Frozen conflict

Conflict in which military action has been suspended although the underlying causes remain unresolved.

9. Regasification

Converting liquified natural gas back into gas.

10. Aridification

The long-term drying of a region.

11. Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions

Scope 1 emissions are emissions (of greenhouse gasses or other pollutants) caused directly by an organisation’s own activities, such as burning fuel in a factory or in vehicles.

Scope 2 emissions are emissions caused indirectly by an organisation’s own energy use, for example emissions by a power station from which the organisation buys energy.

Scope 3 emissions are all other emissions arising from an organisation’s suppliers or customers.

12. Resilience hubs and cool pavements

Resilience hubs are refuges for people during a heatwave and providing, for example, drinking water, internet access and phone charging.

Cool pavements are pavements treated to reflect sunlight and absorb less heat.

13. Dead pool

A n artificial water reservoir in which the water is so depleted that water can longer be sent downstream.

14. Synfuels and e-fuels

Synfuels are replacements for conventional hydrocarbons, produced artificially rather than from fossil fuels.

E-fuels are synfuels made using renewable energy.

15. Productivity paranoia

Fear by managers that home workers will shirk. And fear by home workers that managers will see them as shirkers.

16. TWaT city

A city where, for many workers, their only days in the office are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

17. Doughnut effect

The movement of workers from city centres to the suburbs, leaving a hole in the middle, like an American-style donut.

The article comments tartly that property developers hope to entice workers back into city centres with beautiful offices and fantastic views, creating a British-style doughnut—with jam in the middle.

18. Battery belt

A vision for the future old ‘rust belt’ regions of the US, after a hoped-for revitalisation by manufacturers of electric vehicles and of batteries for those vehicles.  


Someone eager for development in their home area—the antithesis of a NIMBY.

20. Virtual power plant

A network of many small (household) electric generation and storage systems that can deliver power to the electric grid at short notice when the grid needs more capacity.

21. Vertiport

A landing and take-off site for air taxis (flying cars or EVTOL aircraft —electric vertical take-off and landing), with links to existing transport networks.

22. Space solar power

Power generated in space by satellites by capturing sunlight.

23 Cislunar

 Pertaining to the area of space between Earth and the Moon.  

Words of 2022

For discussion of some words of 2022, please see https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/12/oxbridge-words-of-2022

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