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Collins Dictionary Declares ‘Lockdown’ the Word of the Year

By December 11, 2020Language, News

Readers will almost certainly not be shocked to learn that the Collins Dictionary has declared Lockdown to be the word that defined 2020. Most will agree that it is the word that has been on everyone’s lips since the COVID-19 pandemic became a global crisis earlier this year. It is a struggle that has touched billions of people and, as Collins said, the word Lockdown encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people.”

Lexicographers found there were over 250,000 usages of the word so far in 2020, an increase from a mere 4,000 last year, back when the idea of a pandemic was far from everyone’s minds. Plenty of other COVID related words were featured strongly this year, including Furlough, Key Worker, Self-Isolate, Social Distancing, and, of course, Coronavirus.”

As the BBC reports, the dictionary defines the word Lockdown as: “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”. Several words unrelated to the pandemic also made the list, including BLM (black lives matter), which Collins says saw a 581% increase in usage. Megxit, a term referencing the abdication of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was also on the list.

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

Previous words of the year include:

2019 – Climate strike
2018 – Single-use
2017 – Fake news
2016 – Brexit
2015 – Binge-watch

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