'Lockdown' named Word of the Year 2020 by Collins Dictionary

10 November 2020, 07:07

Lockdown has been named the Word of the Year by Collins Dictionary
Lockdown has been named the Word of the Year by Collins Dictionary. Picture: PA

'Lockdown' has been named the Word of the Year 2020 by Collins Dictionary as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

The dictionary said it added the term because it "encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people who have had to restrict their daily lives in order to contain the virus".

Collins' lexicographers registered over a quarter of a million usages of "lockdown" during 2020, against only 4,000 the previous year.

According to the dictionary, lockdown is defined as "the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces".

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It came into common parlance as Government's around the world responded to the spread of Covid-19 in early 2020.

The virus has now claimed over 1,260,000 lives worldwide, and infected almost 51 million.

Collins' annual 10-strong list of additions is dominated by words and phrases relating to the pandemic, including "furlough", "key worker", "self-isolate" and "social distancing".

"Coronavirus" itself also features.

"Key worker" has seen a 60-fold increase in usage reflecting the importance attributed to professions considered to be essential to society.

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Social and political upheavals such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the withdrawal of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from royal duties also influence the list.

Following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US, the abbreviation "BLM" features after registering an increase in usage of 581% by Collins.

"Megxit", which is modelled on the word "Brexit" - Collins' Word of the Year 2016, makes the list following Harry and Meghan's move to the US.

"Megxit", which is modelled on the word "Brexit" - Collins&squot; Word of the Year 2016, also made the list of new words
"Megxit", which is modelled on the word "Brexit" - Collins' Word of the Year 2016, also made the list of new words. Picture: PA

"TikToker" describes someone who shares content on the TikTok social media platform, while "mukbang" originated in South Korea and describes a host who broadcasts videos of themselves eating a large quantity of food.

Helen Newstead, language content consultant at Collins, said: "Language is a reflection of the world around us and 2020 has been dominated by the global pandemic.

"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 socialize.

"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."

Last year's word of the year was "climate strike" marking a year in which 17-year-old Greta Thunberg led a global environmental movement.