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Originating in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash, as a portmanteau of meta and universe, metaverse refers to a cyberspace environment in which people interact with each other through avatars.

In 2022, the term was named one of three contenders for the Oxford University Press Word of the Year, in the first ever selection to be decided by public vote, but lost to goblin mode, with 14,484 votes to 318,956. According to OUP, “The term ‘metaverse’ describes ‘a (hypothetical) virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way, sometimes posited as a potential extension of or replacement for the internet, World Wide Web, social media, etc.”

Fanspeak 1992
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