Collins Dictionary names lockdown as Word of the Year 2020

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Collins Dictionary Names Lockdown As Word Of The Year 2020 Collins Dictionary Names Lockdown As Word Of The Year 2020
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Kenneth Fox

Collins Dictionary has named lockdown as their Word of the Year 2020 saying that is a "dispiriting reflection of where we’re all at."

In a blog post on the Collins Dictionary website, they said "It takes a lot to unite the world in terms of what concerns people, and one thing that can be said for Covid-19 is that it has affected most of the planet – which is reflected in how we use language.

"The dictionary’s lexicographers chose lockdown – the containment measure used by governments across the world to mitigate Covid-19’s spread – because it is “a unifying experience for billions of people across the world."

They said they monitor 13 billion word corpus and create an annual list of new and notable words that reflect the ever-evolving English language and the preoccupations of those who use it.

Social media influence

They said it registered more than a quarter of a million usages of the word lockdown during 2020, against only 4,000 the previous year.

"In choosing word of the year, others that could have made the top spot include coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolate, furlough or key worker, all of which are included in the dictionary’s longer list of 10 words of the year.

"Key worker has had a 60-fold increase in usage, reflecting the importance of essential jobs in society," they said.

The list includes words reflecting other significant developments in 2020. The abbreviation BLM was often used as a social media hashtag, as well as in conversation and reporting following the murder of George Floyd in the US in May and subsequent protests.

Collins registered an increase in usage of BLM by 581 per cent, representing new awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, founded in 2013.

Among new words thrown up this year by social media are TikToker – someone who shares content on the TikTok video-sharing app – and mukbang, a phenomenon originating in South Korea where a host of a video or webcast eats large quantities of food to entertain viewers, while broadcasting to followers.

Collins Dictionary’s words of 2020:

BLM: abbreviation, for Black Lives Matter – a movement that campaigns against racially motivated violence and oppression.

coronavirus: noun, any one of a group of RNA-containing viruses that can cause infectious illnesses of the respiratory tract, including COVID-19; so called because of their crown-like appearance in electron micrographs

furlough: noun, a temporary laying-off of employees, usually because there is insufficient work to occupy them; verb (tr) to lay off (staff) temporarily. from Dutch verlof, from ver- for- + lof leave, permission; related to Swedish förlof

key worker: or keyworker, noun, an employee in any of a number of professions considered to be essential to the functioning of society, for example teachers, police officers, health workers, shop workers, etc

lockdown: noun the imposition of stringent 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 + (e)xit; influenced by Brexit

mukbang: noun, a video or webcast in which the host eats a large quantity of food for the entertainment of viewers; Korean, from meogneun eating + bangsong broadcast.

self-isolate: vb (intr), to quarantine oneself if one has or suspects one has a contagious disease; self-isolation, noun.

social distancing: noun, the practice of maintaining a certain distance between oneself and other people in order to prevent infection with a disease. Also called: physical distancing; social distance or socially distance, verb

TikToker: noun, a person who regularly shares or appears in videos on TikTok.

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