Today, Collins Dictionary announced that “lockdown” was named its Word of the Year, and it isn’t exactly a surprise. Since 2019, the dictionary recorded a 6,000 percent increase in the word’s usage.
“Lockdown” is defined by Collins as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces.” Pretty spot on.
In 2019 there were just 4,000 recorded instances of “lockdown” being used while in 2020 that number has risen to 250,000.
Helen Newstead, Collins’ language content consultant, 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 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.”
Unsurprisingly, words like coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolate, and furlough made the dictionary’s list of top 10 words. BLM, the abbreviation for Black Lives Matter, made the shortlist for Word of the Year.
In other 2020 dictionary news, the Oxford University press officially changed its definition of “woman” to describe females more positively and remove sexist associations.
According to a statement from Oxford University Press, “We have expanded the dictionary coverage of ‘woman’ with more examples and idiomatic phrases which depict women in a positive and active manner.” The statement continued, “We have ensured that offensive synonyms or senses are clearly labelled as such and only included where we have evidence of real world usage.”