Switzerland's words of the year for 2022 revealed

Switzerland's words of the year for 2022 revealed

The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) has revealed its words of the year for Switzerland in 2022. After two years that were dominated by terms related to the COVID pandemic, ZHAW found that people’s attention has now turned to the energy crisis, shortages and boycotts.

ZHAW's words of the year for Switzerland

To find the “words of the year,” ZHAW uses a national database to find 20 unique words that were used more frequently than in previous years. From these words, the institute of higher education is able to determine which events were top of people's minds as the year progressed. To find the winner, a panel of experts chooses the "most distinct words" on the list, creating a top three for each language region of Switzerland.

After two years of COVID-related words dominating the ranking - Impfdurchbruch (vaccination breakthrough) was one of the words of the year in 2021 - ZHAW noted that the words of the year for 2022 have returned to more specific topics and events in Switzerland and abroad.

What were Switzerland's words of the year in 2022?

In 2022, Strommangellage (energy shortage) was chosen as the word of the year for German-speaking Switzerland. Boycotter (to boycott) took the top spot west of the Röstigraben, while penuria and mancanza (shortage) were chosen for Italian and Romansh-speaking areas respectively.

In a statement given to Swissinfo, ZHAW explained that with the threat of energy shortages in Switzerland this winter, and the government announcing its voluntary, mandatory and emergency energy plans, the energy crisis was front and centre in people’s minds in 2022. “Despite emergency scenarios, it could be a dark, cold winter in Swiss living rooms in 2022,” they concluded.

With Swiss cities, especially those in French-speaking areas, choosing to boycott the World Cup in Qatar and the Beijing Winter Olympics, it seemed fitting to make boycott the word of the year in the Romande. The jury in Italian and Romansh areas explained that they had picked "shortage" because of the droughts over the summer, and how the heatwaves have changed how people view Switzerland’s water, energy and natural resources.

Words of the year in Switzerland 2022

Along with the winners for each language region, here are the other words shortlisted by ZHAW in 2022:

  • Frauen-Ticket (women’s ticket) - a reference to the women-only candidate pool for the new Federal Councillor from the Social Democratic Party.
  • Schutzstatus S (protection status S) - the Swiss residence permit given to Ukrainian refugees.
  • Sobriété (sobriety) - a reference to the voluntary energy-saving measures announced by the government, along with other cost-saving measures.
  • Souffle (breath) - a metaphor referencing how, after COVID measures were scrapped, Switzerland could “breath again.”
  • Invasione (invasion) - a reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • Coraggio (courage) - a word used to refer to protest action in Iran, Qatar and Russia in 2022.
  • 19 grads (19 degrees) - a reference to the government’s demand that housing is only heated to 19 degrees celsius this winter.

For more information about the words of the year, visit ZHAW’s website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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