Udayavni Special

‘Lockdown’ declared word of 2020 by Collins Dictionary


Team Udayavani, Nov 10, 2020, 5:38 PM IST

London: Lockdown, the containment measure implemented by governments around the world to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2020.

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

“Our lexicographers chose lockdown as Word of the Year because it is a unifying experience for billions of people across the world, who have had, collectively, to play their part in combating the spread of COVID-19,” Collins said.

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

“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,” she said.

The dictionary said it registered over a quarter of a million usages of the word lockdown during 2020, against only 4,000 the previous year.

Several other words related to the pandemic are included in Collins’ long list of the top 10 words of the year, which include furlough or the temporary laying-off of employees, usually because there isn’t sufficient work to employ them, and self-isolate, or to quarantine oneself if one has or suspects contagious disease.

The word coronavirus is there too, with an extraordinary 35,000-fold increase in use year-on-year, and defined as any of the group of viruses that cause infectious illnesses of the respiratory tract, including Covid-19. But the social impacts – the changes to behaviour and the human way of life – dominate the list for the year.

“The restrictions placed on how we move about and interact with one another arguably had the most impact. And they’re represented first and foremost by social distancing, a concept now so pervasive that it has also entered the language as a verb ‘to socially distance’,” Collins notes.

However, the dictionary points out that 2020 was not all about the pandemic.

Megxit, or Prince Harry and wife Meghan Meghan’s decision to stand down as senior members of the UK royal family, was among some of the other top words of the year.

BLM or Black Lives Matter, the huge global anti-racism movement, was one of the other key words. And, on a lighter note, there is the word “mukbang” all the way from Korea, which means a video or webcast in which the host noisily eats a large quantity of food for the entertainment of viewers.

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