Blue Ticks To Wet Lettuce: 10 Phrases That Defined 2022

Blue Ticks To Wet Lettuce: 10 Phrases That Defined 2022

Paris, France: In a year full of extraordinary developments, from the war in Ukraine to catastrophic natural disasters, AFP looks at some of the words and phrases that defined 2022.


With the war in Ukraine and increasingly serious threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the fear of nuclear war is haunting the world for the first time in decades.

“We haven’t faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962,” US President Joe Biden said in October.

Experts have warned of the most dangerous situation they can remember with fears not limited to Russia: North Korea’s nuclear fencing has reached a new high and the world is preparing for its first nuclear test since 2017.

London Bridge

At 6:30pm on September 8, Buckingham Palace announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II, ending the longest reign in British history and sending shockwaves around the world.

For 10 days, Britons paid homage to the only king they had known, with a series of carefully planned ceremonies.

The schedule of events, codenamed “London Bridge”, explained every aspect of protocol in minute detail – right down to BBC presenters wearing black ties.

In this case, he died in Scotland, which means that special provisions came into play – Operation Unicorn.

Loss and damage

World leaders and negotiators headed to Egypt’s Red Sea port of Sharm el-Sheikh for the latest United Nations summit on combating climate change (COP27).

After a poorly organized summit, an agreement was reached on a fund for “losses and damages” to help vulnerable countries deal with the devastating effects of climate change.

Behind this corporate name lies the devastation of millions of people in the developing world.

The summit was hailed as historic, but many expressed anger at the lack of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Woman. Life. Freedom

The chant screamed by protesters in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman arrested by the Tehran morality police.

Protesters have burned posters of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and women have appeared in public without headscarves, in scenes scarcely imaginable before the uprising.

The demonstrations have lasted more than three months and appear to pose an existential challenge to the 43-year rule of the clerical regime.

Blue tick

The tiny blue tick (it’s actually white on a blue background), which certifies users on Twitter, became a symbol of the chaos engulfing the social media platform in the wake of its $44 billion takeover by Elon Musk.

The mercurial Tesla boss announced that anyone wanting the coveted blue tick would have to stump up eight dollars, only to scrap the plan hours later — and then reintroduce a more complicated system several weeks afterwards.

Nearly two months on from the takeover, Twitter’s future remains up in the air, with thousands of staff laid off, advertisers leaving, and Musk himself vowing to step down as CEO as soon as he finds someone “foolish” enough to take over, after an online poll found a majority wanted him gone.

Roe v. Wade

In an historic ruling, the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision that enshrined a woman’s right to an abortion.

The Supreme Court ruled that individual states could restrict or ban the procedure — a decision seized upon by several right-leaning states.

Protests erupted instantly in Washington and elsewhere, showing how divisive the topic remains in the United States.

The overturning of “Roe v. Wade” became a critical battle in the US mid-terms, in which candidates in favour of abortion rights won several victories.

Quiet quitting

One of the “words of the year” in Britain and Australia, the phrase refers to doing the bare minimum at work, either as a protest against your employer or to improve your work-life balance.

The trend, which has sparked debate about overwork, especially in the United States, appears to have surfaced first in a TikTok post in July.

“You’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” said the post which went viral, drawing nearly a half-million likes.

Wet lettuce

As Liz Truss approached the end of her chaotic and short-lived tenure as British prime minister, the Economist weekly mused that her effective period in office had been “roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce”.

The tabloid Daily Star leapt on the idea, launching a live web cam featuring the said vegetable — complete with googly eyes — next to a picture of the hapless Truss.

Her premiership lasted just 44 days and featured a mini-budget that collapsed the markets and generated extraordinary political upheaval. In the end, the lettuce won.

Tomato soup

Environmental protesters seeking to draw attention to the role of fossil fuel consumption in the climate crisis hurled tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting at London’s National Gallery in October, touching off a series of similar stunts.

Since then, activists have smothered mashed potato on Claude Monet and glued themselves to works by Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and Johannes Vermeer.

For some, the campaigners are heroes bravely drawing attention to the climate emergency. For others, the attacks are counterproductive and lose force by becoming commonplace.


The protests in China were initially sparked by the Covid-19 restrictions, but later spread to broader political grievances, making it the biggest threat to Beijing’s authorities since 1989.

In some areas, this demonstration has become known as the “A4” demonstration, and the protesters are holding A4-sized white papers in their hands as a sign of solidarity and a reference to freedom of speech in China.

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