Visitors are pictured in front of an immersive art installation titled “Machine Hallucinations — Space: Metaverse” by media artist Refik Anadol, which will be converted into NFT and auctioned online at Sotheby’s, at the Digital Art Fair, in Hong Kong on Sept 30 this year. (Reuters photo)

The Collins Dictionary declared “NFT” its word of the year for 2021 in recognition of the convergence of the worlds of money, tech and art in what became known as “non-fungible tokens”.

NFTs have exploded in popularity this year with the help of collectors, speculators and celebrity endorsers stirring up hype — and funding — for them.

Collins defines them as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible”. Some of this digital artwork has been selling for millions of dollars.

  • Full list of Collins 2021 Word of the Year Award

The corporate world has been anything but slow to respond.

Hybe Co, the agency managing Justin Bieber and K-pop sensation BTS, is teaming up with South Korea’s biggest crypto exchange to sell digital photo cards of the band.

Sports teams, car brands and other musicians have also jumped on the NFT bandwagon. The latest backers also include Paris Hilton and Bill Ackman’s Table Management.

Other words making the Collins shortlist included “metaverse”, “a proposed version of the internet that incorporates three-dimensional virtual environments” that persuaded Mark Zuckerberg to change Facebook’s company name to Meta Platforms Inc.

“Crypto”, the short form for cryptocurrency and often used as shorthand for blockchain technology as a whole, was also present.

“Double-vaxxed”, describing someone who has had both doses of a two-dose vaccine, also got a nod. “Vax” and its various iterations had also been singled out by the rival Oxford English Dictionary earlier this year.

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