‘Lockdown’ named word of the year by Collins Dictionary

‘TikToker’ and ‘Megxit’ also among most popular words of 2020

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 10 November 2020 15:30
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Collins Dictionary names ‘lockdown’ its word of the year for 2020

“Lockdown” has been named word of the year by Collins Dictionary in its annual list.

Each year, the dictionary identifies the most popular words used across websites, books and newspapers, as well as spoken material from radio, television and conversations, all of which are documented in the 4.5bn-word Collins Corpus.

Collins registered a 6,000 per cent increase in use of the word “lockdown” in the last year.

Lockdown is defined by the dictionary as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”.

In 2019, Collins recorded 4,000 instances of the word being used. However, in 2020, this figure rose to more than 250,000.

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

"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.”

The dictionary’s top 10 most-used words of 2020 contains other phrases related to the pandemic, including “coronavirus”, “social distancing”, “furlough”, and “self-isolate”.

Additionally, “BLM" is in the list, an abbreviation for Black Lives Matter, which Collins defines as “a movement that campaigns against racially motivated violence and oppression”.

The word “Megxit” was also included in the top 10, a term that was used in reference to the departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from the royal family in January.

In 2019, Collins’ word of the year was “climate strike”. This was preceded by “single-use” in 2018, “fake news” in 2017, and “Brexit” in 2016.

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