The old-fashioned smoko could soon be replaced by the more modern vapo with Oxford Dictionaries revealing “vape” is its international word of the year for 2014.
To vape is to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette. As a noun it describes the actual device.
Computer robots which scour the web for Oxford Dictionaries show that use of the word “vape” doubled in 2014 compared to 2013.
“That’s a steady and sizeable growth,” senior editor Fiona McPherson told AAP.
“But it’s nothing like ‘selfie’ – that was so ridiculously phenomenal.”
Selfie was the 2013 word of the year.
The term originated in Australia with a young, drunk man first using it in 2002 to describe a self-portrait photograph.
Interestingly, vaping the word existed well before vaping the phenomenon.
E-cigarettes were invented in China in 2003, however, the earliest known use of the word vape is from a 1983 UK magazine.
In an article on smoking Rob Stepney described a hypothetical device as: “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.)”
Ms McPherson says the growth of the term vape in the past few years is down to the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes.
“There was a real gap in the language,” she said.
“If you’re going to be pedantic about it, saying that you’re smoking something if it’s not actually producing smoke doesn’t seem quite right.
“So a word was needed to say exactly what it is people are doing.”
The vaping lexicon includes “vape pen” (the device) and “vape shop” (a speciality store where they can be purchased).
There’s also “vaporium” which is a place where e-cigarettes may be vaped.
Also part of the new vocabulary is the retronym “tobacco cigarette” which distinguishes traditional cigarettes from electronic devices.
It’s a bit like the retronym “landline” was needed after mobile phones were invented and “acoustic guitar” was adopted after people started rocking electric versions.
Vape was included in the common-usage Oxford Dictionaries Online in August 2014.
It’s being considered for the definitive Oxford English Dictionary.
Selfie wasn’t in the OED when it was word of the year in 2013 but finally made the grade a few months ago.
Vape was selected from a shortlist including contactless (relating to technologies that allow a smart card or mobile to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader), slacktivism (internet support for a political or social cause requiring little effort) and normcore (a trend where ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement).
The World Health Organisation in August warned e-cigarettes pose a “serious threat” to foetuses and young people.
The body recommended banning e-cigarettes from public indoor spaces “until exhaled vapour is proven to be not harmful to bystanders”.
In Australia it’s illegal to sell e-cigarettes with nicotine.