In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary crowned “selfie” as the Word of the Year. The year before, it was “gif.” Now the folks behind the dictionary have announced the 2014 Word of the Year, and it’s “vape.” Vape is a verb meaning to use an electronic cigarette, although it can also be used as a noun for the e-cig itself. The word is an abbreviation of vapor, and was coined in 1983 in reference to using a hypothetical inhaler as a cigarette substitute. With the introduction of e-cigs, the word took off significantly in 2009.
As e-cigarettes (or e-cigs) have become much more common, so vape has grown significantly in popularity. You are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year.
Usage of vape peaked in April 2014 – as the graph below indicates – around the time that the UK’s first ‘vape café’ (The Vape Lab in Shoreditch, London) opened its doors, and protests were held in response to New York City banning indoor vaping. In the same month, the issue of vaping was debated by The Washington Post, the BBC, and the British newspaper The Telegraph, amongst others.