It’s the noun we’ll all be glad to see the back of, but lockdown has been named word of the year by Collins Dictionary.
Collins Dictionary defines the word lockdown as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”.
The Collins Corpus, which contains over 4.5 billion words has written material from websites, newspapers and books. It also contains material from TV, radio and conversations and the Corpus indicates that the use of the word lockdown has risen over 6,000% from 2019. Lockdown has been used over 250,000 times this year according to the Corpus. Last year the word had around 4,000 recorded instances.
Collins Dictionary consultant Helen Newstead said “Language is a reflection of the world around us and 2020 has been dominated by the global pandemic”.
She went on to add “We have chosen lockdown as our word of the year because it encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people who have had to restrict their daily lives in order to contain the virus. Lockdown has affected the way we work, study, shop, and socialise. With many countries entering a second lockdown, it is not a word of the year to celebrate but it is, perhaps, one that sums up the year for most of the world”.
Other pandemic related words such as coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolate and furlough featured in the top 10 list. Key worker was another phrase seen in the list. It has seen a 60-fold increase in usage and reflects the “importance attributed this year to professions considered to be essential to society”.
In 2019, Climate strike was word of the year. Single-use was the word of the year in 2018. Fake news and Brexit were words of the year in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
Collins Dictionary top 10 words of 2020
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) to lay off (staff) temporarily. From Dutch verlof, from ver (for) and lof (leave); related to Swedish förlof.
Key worker or keyworker (noun, Brit): 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 and (e)xit; influenced by Brexit.
Mukbang (noun, Korean): a video or webcast in which the host eats a large quantity of food for the entertainment of viewers. From meogneun (eating) and bangsong (broadcast).
Self-isolate(verb): to quarantine oneself if one has or suspects one has a contagious disease.
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.