Vape 2014 word of the year Oxford
(Last Updated On: May 3, 2015)

Vape is Oxford’s 2014 Word of the Year: What’s Next?

We all know how “selfie” reigned supreme as Oxford Dictionary’s 2013 word of the year. Now, as the 2014 concluded, there’s no denying by lexicographers that “vape” has gone mainstream.

Yes, “vape” is Oxford’s 2014 word of the year, and everything in the vaping world just keeps getting better — from some notable triumphs in the legalization of marijuana use in more U.S. states to vaporizer sales across the country. So, let’s throw in a little celebration by talking about vape and how it got to be this year’s buzzword.

What “Vape” Means

Oxford linguistic experts agreed that there has got to be a word to describe the rising trend of using e-cigarettes or vaporizers — something related to smoking but without the use of fire — hence the introduction of the term in the dictionary.

In formal linguistic terms, “vape” is a verb that means to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. It can also be used as a noun to refer to the vaping device device itself, as in “got vape?” Although the word has earned its all-time popularity in the past few years, it was first used in the 1983 article Why Do People Smoke.

The article, written by Rob Stepney, featured “an inhaler or non-combustible cigarette, looking much like the real thing, but…delivering a metered dose of nicotine vapour. The new habit, if it catches on, would be known as vaping”. From then on, many companies have begun testing and rolling out the first vaping devices, otherwise first known as smokeless cigarettes. It was only between 2013 and 2014 that, according to Oxford, usage frequency reached more than twice as much as it was before.

This did not come as a surprise in part because of the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado in early 2014, followed by Washington state in the middle of the year. Then came the November 2014 elections, which favored the states of Alaska and Orgeon, as well as Washington, D.C..

How Vape Topped the List of New Buzzwords

Just because a word gets the most prints and usage doesn’t necessarily mean it becomes the top pick for Oxford. For them, words are just something that represents what’s going on behind it — the way it gained fame, relevance and how it leaves an impact globally.

Of course, popularity is one if the very first criteria for such a new word to even be noticed by Oxford. And obviously, e cigarette and vaporizers have enjoyed all-time popularity. Invented for public use in 2003, vaping devices have become a $2 billion industry, not to mention its exponential growth as more states legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

Back when smoking joints or using bongs were widely accepted as the indisputable way of inhaling THC and other cannabis compounds, no one knew that vaporizers would soon be the new “cool” devices as they are today. In his interview with TIME, Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford’s dictionaries division, said, “It’s hard to anticipate what’s going to capture the public imagination at any given moment.”

One notable factor observed in the rise of vaporizers is the perception that vaporizers are the iPhone of cannabis use. In a sense, the perception that vaporizers are the symbol of technological advancement helps propel their fame.

Of course, along with “vape” come its verions and derivatives according to how each word is used in a particular context. Words like vaper (person who vapes), vapoholic (someone enamoured to vaping) and e-juice (liquid material used to vaporize) have also followed suit, all because of the rising trend.’

Other Contenders

The choosing “vape” as the word of the year didn’t come easy because of other numerous contenders of the title. And perhaps the most formidable candidate last year with the word “bae,” or the shortened form of “babe,” the most common term of endearment. Many others claim that bae is also an acronym for “before anyone else,” which signifies your most significant other.

Another offshoot word associated with marijuana use is “budtender,” which, when compared with the word “bartender,” obviously could mean someone who works at a marijuana dispensary or a retail shop.

Other contenders are normcore, a noun that refers to a fashion statement in which someone deliberately wears ordinary, bland or unfashionable clothing; slacktivist, a noun that refers to someone who joins any form of activism online, which requires little physical presence or involvement; and contactless, which means technologies that involve wireless form of payment through the use of a smartphone or smartcard and an electronic reader.

Controversies Surrounding Vaporizer Use

Just like new laws and trends, the rise of vape use and the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Washington and other states in the United States is not without teething problems and controversies.

Have you heard about exploding houses in Colorado recently? Surprisingly, nobody expected that these cases have increased because of wannabe and inexperienced suppliers of concentrates have begun setting up makeshift laboratories in their homes and apartments. In their efforts to make their own hash oil, amateurs use dangerous amounts of butane to dissolve dry cannabis plants and extract the golden concentrate — also commonly referred to as earwax, honey oil or shatter — that’s rich in THC and cannabinoids. The problem with enclosed spaces and haphazardly built labs is the lack of ventilation. And often, accidents happen: sudden explosions blowing away glass windows and seriously injuring the “lab agents.”

Issues surrounding these incidents lie on the fact that in a number of cases, the court sees these incidents are grounds for charging arson instead of treating the entire situation as freak accidents. And defense attorneys argue that we can equate such accidents to other unfortunate cases of ordinary cooking gone wrong. After all, recreational marijuana is already legal in Colorado. So far it remains unclear as to how legislators deal with these situations that no one saw coming.

Meanwhile, some parents raised their concern on Oxford’s move to herald “vape” as the most mainstream word lately. For them, more kids and young adults would be more curious about the use of vaporizers than ever before, and that they might start using them at a very young age. According to CDC, e cigarette use has tripled among teenagers in the recent years. Statistics show that 4.5 percent of high-school students already use e-cigarettes.

Now these numbers may be something undeniably significant. But come to think of it. Without vaporizers in the picture, what then would fill in that void? It’s the traditional cigarette — messy, practically more expensive to use and far deadlier because fof the toxic materials produced by combustion. So, even though vaporizer use is becoming popular, the rise in possible health problems normally associated with smoking is something we would not expect at all. In the end, it’s a win-win situation for everyone because vaporizers might just be the ultimate answer to our increasing problem of smoking-related deaths reported every year.

What’s Next?

In the field of medicine, vape use will continue to be the dominant force that may someday replace the traditional use of smoking joints and bongs. As more people become health-conscious, the use of smokeless vaporizers will continue to rise. And as better technologies come along, more efficient vaporizers mean safer and worry-free use of these devices, regardless of the materials you use — whether they be dry herbs or concentrates.

Another thing that we’re excited about is the introduction and widespread opening of marijuana bars. Last year, the United Kingdom witnessed the opening of its very first vape cafe in London. This could mean other countries could follow suit and start a new revolution, challenging the already existing beer pubs and bars. This is perhaps the brightest and most promising future of vaporizers and marijuana.

In New York, however, there were some reported protests against the banning of indoor vaping. Perhaps in the United States, we won’t see such marijuana bars opening in the near future because of the existing restrictions on the buying and selling of marijuana. But these setbacks are minor compared to the momentum that vape and marijuana use has gained over the past two years. Thanks to the overturned myth that once put marijuana use in bad light.


Just like the word “selfie,” vape (vaping, vaper, vaporizers, etc.) has definitely earned it because of us, the people who believe that this is the right time to uphold that “Ultralife” experience: one that does away with unhealthy habits of smoking, completely replaced by the promising benefits of vaporizers. We couldn’t thank Oxford enough because of such recognition. Who knows, in the next few years, we’re going to see another cannabis-related word rise because of the promising benefits we get from this once-reviled natural wonder.

And we at give the “vape” a thumbs up. After all, vaporizers are what we’re here for. Join us and start your own Ultralife experience!

Written by Donald Evans