The Collins Dictionary has announced its 2021 word of the year is “NFT,” an abbreviation of the phrase non-fungible token, a blockchain application similar to cryptocurrency.
The word of the year topped other timely phrases, including “climate anxiety” and “hybrid working,” both of which also saw increased use throughout 2021, the pandemic’s second year.
“It is one of three tech-based words to make Collins’ longer list of ten words of the year, which includes seven words brand new to CollinsDictionary.com,” according to a statement from the dictionary’s officials.
Unlike cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which is fungible (or interchangeable) because each bitcoin carries the same monetary value at any specific time, an NFT represents something unique and each carries a different “value,” similar to collectibles. NFTs are commonly used to regulate and verify digital scarcity in “crypto-gaming” or with “crypto-collectibles,” including the popular game CryptoKitty, which allows people to breed, sell, purchase and collect virtual cats in the form of NFTs. Each virtual cat is unique and owned by the user, validated through the blockchain and vulnerable to the ups and downs of that specific market.
The most expensive CryptoKitty, named Dragon, sold for $1.34 million US; however, it’s not even close to the most valuable NFT—a collage of daily images dating back to 2007 sold for $69.3 million US this March.