Oxford Dictionaries has declared “youthquake” its word of the year for 2017. The noun has been defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people”. The word, first coined in the 1960s by Vogue-editor Diane Vreeland, was selected to mark a political awakening among millennials.

Vreeland had first used it to explain sudden changes in fashion, music and attitudes.

Admitting that the word was not an obvious choice, Oxford Dictionaries President Casper Grathwohl said the word gained popularity during the United Kingdom’s general election, spread to New Zealand during the parliamentary election and then a referendum on marriage equality in Australia.

“At a time when our language is reflecting a deepening unrest and exhausted nerves, it is a rare political word that sounds a hopeful note,” Grathwohl wrote. “I think it’s time for a word we can all rally behind.”

Information collected by the selectors showed a five-fold increase in the word’s usage in June during the United Kingdom’s general election.

The word has been selected to mark “where we have been, how far we have come, and where we are heading”, according to a statement issued by the Oxford Dictionaries. It was “reflective of the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of this past year” as well as a mark of cultural significance.

Earlier in December, American dictionary Merriam-Webster named “Feminism” as its word of the year.