‘Salty’ finally gets the lexical recognition it deserves

Getting salty may soon become a little more common, and it’s not because of any new esports competition

Screengrab via Hold Back to Block/YouTube

Getting salty may soon become a little more common, and it’s not because of any new esports competition.

Every year, the American Dialect Society hands out a variety of awards for words based on different categories, ranging from “most creative” to “most outrageous” and “most likely to succeed.” And this year, the fighting game community—enthusiasts of competitive fighting games like the Street Fighter and Smash Bros.—helped to influence the latter category. This year, it’s labeled “salty” the most likely to succeed. 

It has long been the case that when a fighting game competitor loses his cool and gets upset, generally over a frustrating loss, he is called salty. This piece of the fighting game vernacular was once largely exclusive to this specific group of fans and players, but as competitive gaming has further popularized and the community has grown and expanded, so too has use of the word.

Now, a player of any game who can’t quite handle his frustrations is often accused of getting a little salty. And a cursory search of the word on such platforms as YouTube will quickly produce results like this one.

The use of the word salty to describe someone who is angered and upset isn’t necessarily new, but its recent rise to prominence is notable because it is largely attributable to its prevalence among fighting game players.

In reporting on the American Dialect Society’s decision, even the Wall Street Journal credited the fighting game community with having spearheaded the rise of the word’s use.

With salty now having won the society’s award for word most likely to succeed, it would seem that the sky’s the limit. The next logical step was for the word to serve as inspiration for bitter highlight reels featuring the world’s top Dota 2 players.

And now that we’ve got that covered, anything is possible.