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Credit: Disney/Pixar

'Existential' becomes Dictionary.com's Word of the Year thanks to Forky in Toy Story 4

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Dec 2, 2019

The next time someone calls you "trash," take it as a compliment because a person (or toy) can go from being garbage, to inspiring 2019's Word of the Year on Dictionary.com. In honor of Tony Hale's Forky in Toy Story 4, the vocabulary-based website has decided to highlight "existential" as the most important word of this year.

"Forky’s plight was entertaining, yes, but it also resonated with a deeper sentiment — and word — that defined so much of 2019," reads Dictionary.com's explanation for why the word was chosen. "The thing about Forky is, his dilemma actually speaks to a broader theme of threat and crisis reflected not only in culture and news, but also in our dictionary work throughout this year. High-stakes events around the world involving climate change, gun violence, and democratic institutions were some of the top news stories."

Created by Bonnie, Forky is a naive, existence-questioning spork with googly eyes and pipe-cleaner arms. Upon coming to life, he spends most of his time trying to throw himself away. After many failed attempts, Woody (Tom Hanks) convinces the spork that he's not something to be cast aside, but rather an important part of Bonnie's life.

"Forky is like a newborn," producer Mark Nielsen told SYFY WIRE over the summer. "He doesn't know anything about life — he doesn't even understand why he's alive or what a toy even is. He makes Woody vocalize what it means to be a toy."

Once the movie was released to the public, everyone agreed that Forky was the film's breakout character, one who eventually got his own series of shorts on Disney+.

"Existential, here, is used in phrases like existential crisis, a psychological episode in which a person — or toy, in Forky’s case — questions the meaning of their life and of all that exists," adds Dictionary.com.

SYFY WIRE has reached out to Hale for comment


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