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Posted on11 November 2020

Word of the Year 2020: Lockdown

This week the Collins Dictionary announced that their word of the year 2020 is ‘lockdown‘. Lockdown is a noun which describes the imposition of restrictions on travel, social interaction and access to public spaces and was apparently chosen because it represents the experience of so many people across the globe this year.

2020 Word Of The Year

Other words considered for this year’s word of the year were:

  • Coronavirus
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Key Workers
  • Furlough
  • Self-Isolate
  • Social Distancing
  • TikToker
  • Mukbang
  • Megxit

Key Worker 2020

Previous Words of the Year

Previous words of the year include ‘climate strike‘ from 2019, ‘single-use‘ from 2018, ‘fake news‘ from 2017, ‘Brexit‘ from 2016, ‘Binge-watch‘ from 2015, ‘photobomb‘ from 2014 and ‘geek‘ from 2013. In 2012 the Collins Dictionary decided one word wasn’t enough and they actually selected one word for each month:

  • January – Broga
  • February – Legbomb
  • March – Eurogeddon
  • April – Mummy Porn
  • May – Zuckered
  • June – Jubilympics
  • July – Romneyshambles
  • August – Games Makers
  • September – 47 per cent
  • October – Superstorm
  • November – Gangnam Style
  • December – Fiscal Cliff

I’m afraid that I had to look up some of the words above as I obviously wasn’t paying enough attention to popular culture in 2012! Broga is apparently a yoga class geared for men (!), a legbomb occurs when a person shows off a lot of leg (the mind boggles) and Romneyshambles has something to do with US presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the London 2012 Olympics? I can only presume that after the 2012 selection, many of which did not stand the test of time, the Collins Dictionary decided that one word a year was quite enough.

The word of the year is an interesting reflection of the past and a snapshot of society at the time. It’s also impossible to predict as language evolves to meet our needs. In fact, in 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year wasn’t even a word with any letters, but an emoji!

Personal Word of the Year

My word of the year? If it is a word new to me then it would probably be ‘Zoom‘, thanks to the technology that has meant that work and family connections have continued remotely. If it’s a word that already existed in my vocabulary then it would be ‘Home,’ somewhere that has been a place of work, a school, a gym, a dance studio, an animation suite, a restaurant and a refuge. We have spent a lot more time at home this year and I’m grateful that the roof over my head has been a safe place (apart from that moment when I broke my elbow – but that’s another story)!


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