The 2018 Oxford Word of the Year isn't nice, it's toxic

LONDON (AP) — What single word best captures the tone of the past year? Oxford Dictionaries says it's "toxic."

Oxford University Press monitors changes in the English language and each year selects a word that catches the annual mood.

Its lexicographers said Thursday that "toxic" grew into "an intoxicating descriptor for the year's most talked about topics."

Beyond its literal sense, people also employed it to describe relationships, politics and habits.

The word beat other shortlisted possibilities, including gas-lighting ("manipulating someone by psychological means into accepting a false depiction of reality or doubting their own sanity") and orbiting ("the action of abruptly withdrawing from direct communication with someone while still monitoring, and sometimes responding to, their activity on social media").

Toxic succeeds last year's word of the year, youthquake, which recognized the millennial generation's power.

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Indonesia aims to banish toxic waste from Citarum river
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Indonesia aims to banish toxic waste from Citarum river

Environmental activist Deni Riswandani holds up cups of water from the Citarum river (R) and water from a tributary which runs through an area densely populated with textile factories (L) where the two meet near Majalaya, south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, January 26, 2018.

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

A fisherman operates his boat at the mouth of the Citarum river north-west of Muara Gembong, West Java province, Indonesia, February 22, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

A worker collects sand from the bottom of the Citarum river in order to make bricks, near Majalay, south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, January 26, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

An Indonesian soldier burns trash collected from the banks of the Citarum river during a clean-up operation, south of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 13, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Men guide a boat carrying sand past where a section of the Citarum river is joined by a polluted tributary which runs through an area densely populated with textile factories near Majalaya, south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, January 26, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Rolls of cloth are stacked in the warehouse of a textile factory which has its own water treatment facilities located near the Citarum river in Majalaya, south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 14, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Farmers plant rice close to the Citarum river near Muara Gembong, West Java province, Indonesia, February 22, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

A woman and a child wash on the porch of a house located near the mouth of the Citarum river north-west of Muara Gembong, West Java province, Indonesia, February 22, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Students walk through rice fields located in Majalaya, a town densely populated with textile factories, south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, January 25, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

An Indonesian soldier cuts away garbage wrapped around the propeller on a pontoon boat during a clean-up operation along the Citarum river, south of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 13, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Indonesian soldiers work during a clean-up operation along the Citarum river, south of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 13, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Ferrymen guide a boat across the Citarum river, south-east of Muara Gembong, West Java province, Indonesia, February 22, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

A farmer works in a rice paddy near a stream which flows into the Citarum river, in the mountains south of Bandung, near Pacet, West Java province, Indonesia, February 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Floating fish farms are seen on the Jatiluhur Reservoir, part of the Citarum river basin, near Purwakarta, West Java province, Indonesia, February 15, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

A woman uses her mobile phone while walking in flood waters after heavy seasonal rains caused the Citarum river to flood in Dayeuhkolot, south of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 23, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Waste water at a textile factory is treated before being released into a stream that joins the Citarum river in Majalaya, south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 14, 2018.

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

A woman pushes her scooter down a flooded street after heavy seasonal rains caused the Citarum river to flood in Dayeuhkolot, south of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 23, 2018.

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Women wash clothes in water from a tributary of the Citarum river in Majalaya, a town densely populated with textile factories, south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, January 25, 2018.

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Women board a small boat used as a ferry to cross the Citarum river south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 8, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

A woman sells salt water fish from the Java Sea near her roadside stand next to the Citarum river south-east of Muara Gembong, West Java province, Indonesia, February 22, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Men fish at a polluted tributary, which runs through an area densely populated with textile factories and where it joins the Citarum river, near Majalaya, south-east of Bandung, West Java province, Indonesia, February 14, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

A fisherman sails his boat at the mouth of the Citarum river north-west of Muara Gembong, West Java province, Indonesia, February 22, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

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