‘Lockdown’ is Collins Dictionary Word of the Year

London: Collins Dictionary said on Tuesday that “lockdown” is its Word of The Year in 2020 following a dramatic increase in usage during the spread of COVID-19.

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Lexicographers said they picked the word because it had become synonymous with the experience of populations across the world as governments look to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

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“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,” publishers Harper Collins said.

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Collins registered more than a quarter of a million usages of “lockdown” during 2020, against only 4,000 the previous year.

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Because of the way the pandemic has affected the daily use of language, six of Collins’ 10 words of the year in 2020 are related to the global health crisis.

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“Coronavirus”, “social distancing”, “self-isolate” and “furlough” as well as “lockdown” and “key worker” were included in the longer list of 10 words of the year.

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“Key worker” alone has seen a 60-fold increase in usage reflecting the importance attributed this year to professions considered to be essential to society.

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“2020 has been dominated by the global pandemic,” Helen Newstead, a language consultant at Collins, said.

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“Lockdown has affected the way we work, study, shop, and socialise.

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“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.”

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Definition

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Collins defines “lockdown” as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”.

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According to the dictionary, coronavirus is: “Any one of a group of RNA-containing viruses that can cause infectious illnesses of the respiratory tract, including COVID-19.”

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Significant social and political developments beyond the virus have also been reflected in the list, which has already made its way into online editions of the English dictionary.

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A wave of Black Lives Matter protests, sparked by the death in US police custody of unarmed black man George Floyd, spread around the world and brought a new awareness of the movement.

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The abbreviation “BLM”, often used as a hashtag on social media, was widely used in conversations and reporting following the protests, registering an increase in usage of 581 percent by Collins.

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Social media regularly throws up new words for the dictionary.

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New words

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This year, Collins has included “TikToker”, which describes someone who shares content on the TikTok social media platform.

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“Mukbang”, which refers to a South Korean trend of video bloggers eating large quantities of food in videos broadcast to their followers, has also made the list.

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The UK royal family influenced the shortlist in 2020.

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“Megxit”, which refers to the withdrawal of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan from royal duties, passed into regular usage.

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The word, modelled on “Brexit”, which was Collins’ word of the year in 2016, illustrates just how firmly established that word now is in the British lexicon.

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