‘Vape’ is your Oxford Dictionaries Word of 2014

But it's been around longer than you think.

 

Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Published Nov 18, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 4:40 am CDT

It’s been a big year for marijuana, with victories at the polls and arrest rates plummeting, but a subculture that brings together potheads and cigarette smokers has also flourished: vape life.

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[Kurt Cobain voice] Vape me Vape me my friend Vape me Pass me the vaping pen I like the bubble gum Yeah I like the bubble gum

— būč|{¥ |$0+øp€ (@BuckyIsotope) November 18, 2014

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Yes, those pocket-sized electronic devices that heat your tobaccy, wacky or otherwise, to produce an inhalable vapor low in toxins but high in active ingredients, have exploded in variety and ubiquity of late. Which explains why they beat out the slang juggernaut “bae” as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. (Also on the shortlist were “normcore,” “indyref,” “contactless,” “budtender,” and “slacktivism,” none of which really stood a chance.) 

Sometimes I get bored and blow vape smoke in my drink pic.twitter.com/JFXpkMIvBb

— ➹ Rebel Scum ➹ (@cxnterparts_) November 12, 2014

From the official ruling on the word:

Its linguistic productivity is evident in the development of a vaping lexicon. Vape pen and vape shop appear most frequently, with related coinages including e-juice (the liquid that is converted to vapour in the process of vaping an e-cigarette), carto (short for cartomizer, a disposable cartridge in which e-juice is converted into vapor), vaporium (a place where e-cigarettes may be vaped or in which vaping equipment can be purchased), and even the retronym tobacco cigarette which serves to distinguish traditional cigarettes from the electronic devices.

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In a stunning reveal, it appears that “vape,” at least in its adjectival form, first entered the lexicon in the early 1980s. The Oxford Dictionary researchers quote a 1983 article titled “Why do People Smoke,” written by Rob Stepney and published in New Society, which describes the curious gadget that would come to be widely used and recognized in 30 years: “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.)”

There you have it, vapers—now vape on, vapily, into that vaporous night. You’ve earned it.

VAPE is not a word in WWF yet; get with it, it’s 11 points

— Sara Kate W (@SaraKateW) November 15, 2014

Alright Mr. President just sign here to declare war *obama takes out vape pen*

— Dr. Phil’s Mustache (@YUNGBREASTMILK) November 11, 2014

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thanksgiving dinner flavored Vape pen

— soy bean (@autryautryy) November 12, 2014

Photo by Ricardo Velasquez/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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*First Published: Nov 18, 2014, 1:22 pm CST