Lockdown, the noun that defined so many lives around the world in 2020, was named Word of the Year by the Collins Dictionary.
Lockdown is defined by Collins as “the imposition of strict restrictions on travel, social interaction and access to public spaces” and its use has been booming over the past year. The 4.5 billion word Collins Corpus, which includes written material from websites, books, and newspapers, and spoken material from radio, television, and conversations, saw its usage increase by 6,000%. 4,000 cases of lockdown were recorded in 2019. In 2020 this had risen to more than a quarter of a million.
“Language is a reflection of the world around us, and 2020 has been dominated by the global pandemic,” said Helen Newstead, language content consultant at Collins. “We chose Lockdown as our Word of the Year because it sums up the shared experience of billions of people who had to cut back on their daily lives in order to contain the virus. Lockdown has influenced the way we work, study, shop and socialize. With many countries entering a second lockdown, it’s not a word of the year to celebrate, but it may be one that sums up the year for most of the world. “
Other pandemic-related words like coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolation and vacation were on the list of the dictionary’s top 10 words. Such was the term key worker. According to Collins, the use of key workers has increased 60-fold over the past year, “reflecting the importance given this year to occupations that are considered essential to society”.
The abbreviation BLM for Black Lives Matter was also on the shortlist. Defined by Collins as “a movement that campaigns against racially motivated violence and oppression”, it saw usage increase by 581%.
Earlier words of the year for Collins included the climate strike in 2019, single use in 2018, fake news in 2017 and Brexit in 2016. That year the top 10 included the word Megxit, defined as “the withdrawal of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of Royal Duties, announced January 2020 ”. Collins said the Brexit-style informal noun shows “how firmly the word is now anchored in our lexicon”.
Collins Dictionary Top 10 Words of 2020
Coronavirus (Noun): one of a group of RNA-containing viruses that can cause respiratory infectious diseases, including COVID-19. So named because of their crown-like appearance in electron microscope images.
vacation (Noun): a temporary dismissal of workers, usually because there is not enough work to keep them busy; (Verb) temporarily dismissed. From the Dutch verlof, from ver (for) and lof (to leave); related to Swedish förlof.
Key workers or key workers (Noun, British): an employee in a number of occupations believed to be essential to the functioning of society, e.g. B. Teachers, police officers, health workers, shop workers, etc.
Curfew (Noun): impose severe restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces.
Megxit (Noun, informal): the withdrawal of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from royal duties, announced in January 2020. From Meg (han), Duchess of Sussex and (e) xit; influenced by Brexit.
Mukbang (Noun, Korean): A video or webcast in which the host eats a large amount of food to entertain the audience. From Meogneun (food) and Bangsong (broadcast).
self-isolating (Verb): to quarantine yourself if you have or suspect a contagious disease.
social distancing (Noun): the practice of keeping a certain distance between yourself and other people in order to prevent infection with a disease. Also called: physical distancing > social distance or social distance (Verb).
TikToker (Noun): A person who regularly shares or appears on videos on TikTok.