"Youthquake" is the word of 2017 according to the Oxford Dictionary, while it's "feminism" if you ask the word nerds across the Atlantic at Merriam-Webster. But we think they've got it all wrong. It's obvious that "doggo" is the word of the year.

No, not dog, but doggo. To the uninitiated it's a term of endearment for our canine pals that has been spreading in the world of memes. Use it like you would "pooch" or "pup". It's the word that you might bring into play if you saw a dog looking particularly silly or proud of itself.

In the past year, Google searches for the term have spiked, and Merriam-Webster has acknowledged it as a word to watch.

OK, so "doggo" hardly has the gravitas of "youthquake" - which describes the political clout of young people - or "feminism" in a year which will be remembered for a spotlight finally being shone on sexual harassment. Some will see it an insult to name "doggo" the word of the year.

A dog sitting on grass
Doggo is a 'word to watch' according to Merriam-Webster Unsplash/ReliveMedia

But tapping #doggo into Instagram and mindlessly scrolling through meme after meme is an underrated form of self-care in a turbulent political landscape (with self-care itself being an albeit less fun contender for the word for 2017).

"In these trying times, humanity collectively turns to one source of solace amidst the upheaval and grief," the Merriam-Webster website reads in a tongue-in-cheek caption above a photo of a doggo.

According to the dictionary, the word originates from the phrase "lie doggo" which was 19th century slang for staying hidden or keeping a secret - likely linked to the sleeping habits of dogs - and was popularised by the author Rudyard Kipling.

By the early 2000s, "lie" had been scrapped and "doggo" simply became a loving term for our four-legged friends.

But doggo has become more widely used in the past few years. 2014, for instance, saw the launch of the Ding de la Doggo Facebook page dedicated to the finest doggo memes. This was followed by the /r/doggos subreddit in 2015, according to KnowYourMeme (a reliable source of meme facts). By June 2016, a definition of "doggo" as a "a big ol pupper" was submitted to slang directory Urban Dictionary.

Doggo is part of a wider online dog meme vocabulary known as Doggo Lingo. (See also: floof, bork boof, and mlem). "[DoggoLingo] seems to be quite lexical, there are a lot of distinctive words that are used," Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch told NPR. "It's cutesier than others, too. Doggo, woofer, pupper, pupperino, fluffer — those have all got an extra suffix on the end to make them cuter."

By 2016, doggo had become "popular as part of the standard vocabulary of one of Twitter's best-loved accounts," explained Merriam-Webster.

It added: "Doggo saw a meteoric rise in use in 2017 and continues its upward trajectory, as the nation turns its lonely eyes to dog pictures for comfort and some much-needed encouragement to carry on."

So we think you'll agree that in a year which will be remembered for political division and tragedies, at least the word of the year can be something as totally innocuous as "doggo".